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Isaiah Sweet Murder Trial: Determining a Sentence

MANCHESTER, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- A confessed teenaged murderer will spend the rest of his life behind bars with no chance of parole.

A judge sentenced Isaiah Sweet on Tuesday for the murders of his grandparents Richard and Janet Sweet. The couple was found shot dead in their home in Manchester in May of 2012. Sweet was later arrested in Cedar Rapids.

Sweet pleaded guilty to two counts first-degree murder. His lawyer had asked for a chance of parole, but the judge denied that request.

Todays sentence provided a sense of finality for a family still in mourning.

I couldn't wrap my mind around anything else other than no parole, said Angie Camlin, daughter of Janet Sweet.

Camlin says a life sentence without parole was the only way to go.

The 2012 case Miller vs. Alabama shows that a mandatory life without parole sentence is unconstitutional for teens; however, the court did not stop a sentencing court's ability to make that judgment in homicide cases.

So Judge Michael Shubatt considered 5 factors in determining Sweet's sentence - Age and maturity, home and family environment, circumstances of the homicide, competence of the suspect, and the possibility of rehabilitation.

As for age and maturity, he says though Sweet was 17 at the time of the crime, he was mature enough to understand what he was doing.

Had he been nine months older the law would have required him to spend life in prison without the possibility of parole, Shubatt said.

When considering family environment, he says the Richard and Janet Sweet household was stable. He says much of Isaiahs anger was directed at them because he didnt want to follow the rules they put into place.

Shubatt says when it comes to the circumstances of the murders, they were premeditated and not committed in the heat of the moment or as a crime of passion. Evidence showed that Sweet researched ways to kill his grandparents days before the crime.

The judge also determined that Sweet was competent and compliant with law enforcement during his arrest, later confessing to the crime.

He was apprehended and was able to recite those rights before they were recited to him, Shubatt says.

Finally, after an evaluation, the judge says a doctor determined Sweet's potential for rehabilitation was mixed at best.

He didn't know whether the defendant was treatable, let alone what treatment would be appropriate, Shubatt told the courtroom.

Camlin agrees with the assessment.

The doctor from sentencing says he was a psychopath, and to this day has no empathy, Camlin says. This cannot be healed by medicine, and you cannot teach a person how to feel.

After the judges analysis - it was life without parole for Sweet. A rarity for juveniles in Iowa - and a victory for a family trying to heal.

I thank the judge and all involved, and I feel justice was done today, Camlin said.

Sweet's legal team has 30 days to appeal the sentence. Theres no indication yet as to whether they plan on doing so.
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