From The Intercept:
It was a late summer morning when Robert “Fat Daddy” Taylor woke up, smoked two blunts, and decided to turn himself in. He’d been on the run for four days, and it seemed that everywhere he went in and around the 7 Mile neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, there were photos of him in stores, and people quick to call the police, to claim the $1,000 reward for finding him.
“The streets talk,” Taylor told me recently. “Everybody was telling me, ‘Yo, Fats, man, those boys trying to get you.’ I couldn’t go nowhere. [The police] was everywhere.”
Taylor was not afraid — after all, he was only a person of interest, not a suspect, in a murder that had taken place 15 days earlier, and he knew he had not committed the crime. Still, he was only 16, so he decided to seek the counsel of John McCoy, a 40-something-year-old neighborhood friend. McCoy assured Taylor that the police could not charge him, so Taylor continued walking along East Jefferson Avenue and made his way to the Beaubien police station. He was too young to conceive that this would essentially be his last day of freedom, that this simple act would lead to an arrest, then a life without parole sentence for a crime he insists he did not commit.
“I was 16 years old. I was still a young boy, still a puppy in the hood running reckless,” said Taylor, who is currently incarcerated at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, about 30 miles south of the Canadian border. “But [white people] see a person from the gutter, the ghetto, coming over there and killing one of theirs. There was no way they was ever going to let me go home.”
Taylor’s was a high-profile case. Prosecutors argued that on August 9, 2009, he and his co-defendant, Ihab Masalmani, who was then 17, robbed 21-year-old Matthew Landry after abducting him from an Eastpointe, Michigan, Quiznos restaurant. Masalmani then killed Landry in a burnt-out building in Detroit while, prosecutors said, Taylor stood by. In November 2010 and February 2011, Masalmani and Taylor were first sentenced to mandatory life without parole, a sentence that at the time was legal for minors.
In June 2012, the Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama and banned the use of mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles; in January 2016, the Court decided in Montgomery v. Louisiana that the Miller ruling is retroactive, so even those who were sentenced as minors before 2012 are eligible for resentencing. Under Miller, judges can still sentence minors to life without parole as long as mitigating factors — the child’s age, home environment, extent of participation in the crime, and potential for rehabilitation — are considered. In the Miller ruling, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that given “children’s diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change,” life without parole sentences for minors should be…