Convicted Murderer at 17, Fights to Get Out 26 Years Later
A 43-year-old man serving a life sentence for a murder he committed at 17 may now get a chance to be released.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that it was unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life behind bars without parole.
The court said that juveniles are considered impulsive and reckless and therefore need to be shown leniency. The ruling resulted in inmates across the country asking to have the sentences they received as juveniles be reconsidered. The first to do so in New Hampshire is Eduardo Lopez Jr.
In court Wednesday, prosecutor Jeff Strelzin told the judge that when Lopez shot and robbed two people in 1991, killing one, he did so with intent.
“This defendant planned his crimes in advance, at least a month and a half in advance, took steps to hide evidence, took steps to cover up his crimes and attacked multiple victims," Strelzin said.
Robert Goyette, 31, was sitting in his car in downtown Nashua when Lopez tried to rob him and then shot him in the head. Goyette’s family came to court Wednesday to tell the judge why Lopez should not be released.
"They feel that they were promised something by the criminal justice system 26 years ago and now it's all changed," Strelzin said.
"It isn't just a broken promise, it's having to relive everything that happened. Time does not heal all wounds, not when your loved one was murdered."
Goyette's sister, Carole Murphy, was one of the first to speak. She made sure when she read her comments, that she directed them at Lopez.
“He was a hardworking, honest family man who had a great sense of humor and loved his family," Murphy said.
"It isn't just a broken promise, it's having to relive everything that happened. Time does not heal all wounds, not when your loved one was murdered," said Strelzin.
"Robbie was the father to a 1-year-old son who just celebrated his first birthday two weeks before you killed him. Robbie’s son now has a beautiful 1-year-old son of his own both of whom will never know Robbie expect in pictures and stories," she said trying to hold back tears.
Goyette's other sister Meri Reid read an impact statement from the victim's wife. There were also statements made by the officer assaulted by Lopez that night as well as other members of Goyette's family.
The state is asking for Lopez to stay in prison for another 25 years - when he'll be 68. On Thursday, Lopez' lawyers will argue why he should get out. Lopez along with several members of his family are expected to speak on his behalf.
If granted a new sentence, this will be the first time that a juvenile sentenced to life without parole in New Hampshire will be released.