January 8, 2024

On December 1, 2023, Willkie secured a resentencing for Mr. H under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA). When Mr. H. was just 18 years old, he shot and killed another teenager in his neighborhood after being robbed at gunpoint. He spent over 25 years of his life in prison paying for that tragic mistake, while working towards his rehabilitation and plans for his possible reentry into the community. 

Mr. H was raised in southeast D.C. amidst multiple drug epidemics, family hardship and community violence. When Mr. H was just 13 years old, an older brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Following his brother’s death, and his family’s grief and withdrawal from each other, Mr. H went down a path of bad decisions that ultimately led to his conviction in November 1997 of second-degree murder while armed, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and carrying a pistol without a license. On January 21, 1998, he was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. 

While incarcerated, Mr. H completed over 2,600 hours of educational and vocational courses and maintained a nearly perfect disciplinary record. Mr. H held a variety of jobs while in prison, and received outstanding performance evaluations from his supervisors. Mr. H also participated in religious services and wrote several books aimed at sharing his life experience so as to deter others from making the same mistakes that led him to prison. 

Shortly before Willkie filed its motion, Mr. H was granted parole and released from prison. However, his sentence was such that he could have remained on parole for the rest of his life, and he faced the possibility of returning to prison for life for any violation of parole. Thus, on April 6, 2023, Willkie filed a motion for resentencing under IRAA on behalf of Mr. H. On July 31, 2023, the government filed its response to the motion opposing relief due to his status as a parolee, but conceding that Mr. H otherwise had established his eligibility for resentencing under IRAA given, among other factors, his sterling record in prison and his rehabilitation. 

The D.C. Superior Court held a hearing on the motion on December 1, 2023, during which it sided with Willkie and found that Mr. H was eligible for sentencing review under IRAA. The Court further agreed that Mr. H’s sentence should be reduced, and granted his motion, resentencing him to supervised probation for five years, with the possibility of probation becoming unsupervised after two years. 

Since his release from prison, Mr. H has reconnected with his aging parents, siblings, and other close friends and community members. He now works at a supermarket, is a member of a church, and is working with community leaders to help mentor local youths. 

This is the third time Willkie has secured relief for clients under the IRAA, and the second time for a client who was out on parole.

The Willkie team included partners Elizabeth Gray, Andrew English and Casey Donnelly and associates Samuel Bolam, Anna Occhipinti and Makobe Tabengwa.

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