Convicted murderer Brian Bassett will see his third re-sentencing hearing on Thursday.
In 1995, Bassett, along with Nicholaus McDonald, was convicted as a 16-year-old in the murder of his parents Michael and Wendy Bassett and his 5-year-old brother Austin.
In 2012, a judgment from the United States Supreme Court ruled that the eighth amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment forbids sentencing that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juveniles.
The high court said that when a youth is convicted of murder before the age of 18, the judge must focus on the youth and assess their chances of becoming rehabilitated. The judge can only impose a sentence of life without parole if the sentence “proportionally” punishes the youth, given all of the factors.
According to the Grays Harbor Prosecutor’s Office, the first re-sentencing of Basset came after that 2012 judgment. After consideration from the local court, Bassett’s sentence did not change.
That decision was appealed.
The prosecutor’s office tells KXRO that in State v. Bassett, the Washington Supreme Court said that the Washington State constitution is more protective than the US Constitution, and prohibits life sentences for juveniles.
The case was sent back for re-sentencing and the local court imposed two concurrent 25 year sentences for parents Michael and Wendy and a consecutive 35 year sentence for 5-year-old Austin.
This latest appearance in local court comes after the State v. Haag case in Washington Supreme Court that held a 42-year-old sentence for a 17-year-old who strangled his 7-year-old neighbor, was a de facto life sentence.
The Court said that sentencing courts must give greater weight to the juvenile offender’s potential to change than the facts of the crime.
Since Bassett’s sentence was longer than Haag’s 46 years, he returns for re-sentencing.
Under Washington law, aggravated murder is punishable by either a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
In May, McDonald was found eligible for parole and the Washington Department of Corrections Indeterminate Sentence Review Board unanimously granted his release.