Isaiah Sweet sentenced to life in prison without parole - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Isaiah Sweet sentenced to life in prison without parole

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MANCHESTER (KWWL) - The Manchester man who murdered his grandparents in 2012 will spend the rest of his life in prison without a chance for parole.

That was district judge Michael Shubatt's decision in Tuesday's sentencing of 19-year-old Isaiah Sweet.

Sweet admitted to shooting to death his grandparents and guardians Rick and Janet Sweet during Mother's Day weekend of 2012.

"He is extremely dangerous. He is now and will continue to be a threat to society," Shubatt said as he read his decision Tuesday at the Delaware County Courthouse in Manchester.

Sweet's sentence marks a first for the state of Iowa.

In 2012, the US Supreme Court decided sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without chance of parole violates the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, except for in rare cases, and Sweet was 17 when he committed the murders.

Assistant attorney general of Iowa Denise Timmins was prosecutor on this case. She said she believes this is the first time since that 2012 SCOTUS decision someone who committed a crime as a juvenile got sentenced to life without chance of parole in Iowa.

In order to sentence a juvenile offender to life in prison without a chance of parole, the US Supreme Court says, a judge must consider five factors. Those are the chronological age of the youth, his family and home environment, circumstances of the homicide offense, the incompetencies associated with the juvenile (such as inability to effectively interact with law enforcement officials or attorneys) and the possibility of rehabilitation.

Looking at all five criteria and considering the premeditated and cold-blooded nature of Sweet's double homicide, Shubatt decided this qualifies as one of those rare cases.

"It should be an uncommon if not rare case where a juvenile offender is committed to life in prison without the possibility of parole," Shubatt said, "but if this is not such a case, it is frightening to imagine what might classify as such."

Sweet's defense attorneys had sought a chance at parole for Sweet after 25 years in prison.

"The circumstances of this case were heinous," Timmins said outside the courtroom, following the sentencing. "This was a premeditated crime. (Isaiah Sweet) took two people's lives without a thought about it. If it's warranted in any case, this is the one."

When Shubatt delivered the sentence and said the words, "without the possibility for parole," the victims' family members in the courtroom let out sighs of relief and several of them started to cry.

"I feel safer," Janet Sweet's daughter and Rick Sweet's stepdaughter Angie Camlin said outside the courtroom. "I don't feel I have to look over my shoulder in 20 or 30 years or have my grandchildren on the same streets as someone who cannot be helped."

Regarding premeditation, Shubatt mentioned how Sweet admitted he'd researched ways to kill his grandparents and how he'd worn ear protection when shooting the couple.

Sweet pleaded guilty in October of 2013 to two counts of first-degree murder. Tuesday's sentencing came as a continuation of a prior sentencing hearing, on Feb. 26. There was so much new evidence presented at that hearing, Shubatt decided to delay his decision until March 11.
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