Man who killed girl when they were teens gets new sentence

Associated Press

Cassopolis – A man convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend when they were teenagers in 1993 was sentenced Thursday to at least 25 years in prison, a new term that offers an opportunity for release after his no-parole sentence was set aside by a southwestern Michigan judge.

Robert Leamon, 43, has been in jail or prison for more than 20 years. Cass County prosecutor Vic Fitz told the South Bend Tribune that he could be eligible for a parole review in 2021.

Robert Leamon

Rebecca Stowe was 15 when she disappeared from the Niles area. She was strangled, and her body was buried in a rural area. Leamon, who was 16 at the time of the death, was arrested in 1995 and convicted two years later.

His conviction carried a mandatory life sentence with no chance for parole. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision reopened Leamon’s case and many more across the country. The court said someone under 18 – so-called juvenile lifers – can’t automatically be treated like an adult.

Judges can look at the life, education and maturity level of teens convicted of murder.

Judge Mark Herman noted Leamon’s rehabilitation in prison, among other factors. He set aside the life sentence on Jan. 13.

“To the Stowe family, I apologize,” Leamon said in court last summer. “I’m sorry that you’ve had to come here again today and relive these painful memories that I’ve created in your life.”