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Maryland high court upholds conviction in officer’s killing

June 11, 2022 GMT

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s highest court has upheld the murder conviction and life sentence for a man who was 16 years old when he fatally struck a Baltimore County police officer with a vehicle.

The Maryland Court of Appeals rejected defense attorneys’ argument that it was unconstitutional to sentence Dawnta Harris to life in prison because he was a minor when he killed the officer in 2018. The court ruled on Wednesday that Harris’ age was properly considered when a judge sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Harris, now 20, was driving a stolen Jeep when Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio blocked its path with her patrol car and ordered him to stop. She fired her weapon once before he struck her with the car.

Harris and three other teenagers had been burglarizing homes before the confrontation.

Defense attorney Megan Coleman argued that Harris had been too young to “appreciate the risks and consequences” of his actions.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole were unconstitutional for children convicted of homicides The Maryland appeals court said that ruling didn’t apply in Harris’ case since he will be eligible for parole after 15 years.