Admitted Santa Fe HS shooter won't face death penalty, could be released on parole

Two Supreme Court cases protect suspect from death, life without parole

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SANTA FE, Texas - The 17-year-old Santa Fe High School student accused of killing eight classmates and two teachers will not face the death penalty and may even be paroled at some point due to two U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis is charged with capital murder of multiple people and aggravated assault on a public servant. While he's recognized as an adult in the eyes of the law, two supreme court cases allow him to escape the death penalty and prohibit the courts from sentencing him to life without parole.

Roper v. Simmons, which was decided by the Supreme Court on Oct. 1, 2005, forbids the death penalty in cases where the offender is under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes.

Miller v. Alabama, which was decided June 25, 2012, prohibits "the mandatory sentencing of life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders," according to Oyez, an online archive of Supreme Court materials.

Under Texas law, offenders who are under age 18 and charged with a capital offense face a maximum punishment of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years, according to Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center.

Pagourtzis could be eligible for parole at 57.