The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld a 50-year prison sentence for a Bedford County man for murder when he was 16 years old.
Deauntay Dontaz Moye, now 23, is incarcerated at State Correctional Facility in Albion, County Erie, for the January 2015 murder of 21-year-old Stephanie Waters of Roaring Spring.
According to the case summary, Moi of Woodbury and another juvenile, Ryan Hardwick, 15, of Martinsburg, arranged to purchase marijuana from a dealer.
Instead of the merchant showing up, he sent his girlfriend—Waters—who met the teens in her car, which was in a Woodbury parking lot.
Moy and Hardwicke allegedly searched for marijuana, at which point Mooy pulled out a 22-caliber handgun and shot the young woman twice in the head.
Waters’ dog, Duke, who was in the car, was also shot dead.
With Waters in the back seat, the teens drove around Altoona and then parked the car at an abandoned house in Bedford County.
On September 20, 2016, Moi filed charges of first-degree murder, theft, pet murder and other related crimes, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
His sentence was invalidated by the Supreme Court due to the 2012 US Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which limited life without parole for juvenile murder perpetrators, violating the US constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Based on Miller’s decision, the state of Pennsylvania enacted legislation setting out specific rules when it comes to sentencing a juvenile to commit murder.
It lowered the minimum age to 35 and indicated that a juvenile could not have life without parole unless he was found to be beyond repair or unable to rehabilitate.
At the resentment hearing, a coroner testified that Moi, who is relatively young “They mature over time, and as treatment and rehabilitation continues.”
He opined that “in time and with maturity, structure and appropriate interventions, it is possible to successfully rehabilitate Moye.
Despite the hope of rehabilitation offered by the physician, Bedford Judge Travis W. Livinggood on Moi once again to life imprisonment.
Moy, who was originally from Baltimore, has a checkered history of violence and arson. He had a serious drug problem, and while in prison awaiting trial “pixie” Another inmate’s face, according to the Court of Appeals opinion.
The Supreme Court overturned the ruling a second time, noting that the prosecution had failed to refute the defense’s argument that Moi could have been rehabilitated.
Moi’s third sentencing hearing was held on November 17, 2020.
The public prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 45 to 90 years.
The defense argued for 35 to 70 years.
The judge issued a new sentence of 50 years imprisonment and life imprisonment.
Attorney Karen Sue Hickey of the Bedford County Public Defender’s Office filed another appeal, claiming that the sentence was a de facto life sentence – in violation of the US Constitution.
A three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court, composed of Justice Anne E. Lazarus, Referee, namely Mary B. Murray and John L. Mosmano.
The Supreme Court’s opinion was quoted from the county judge’s support for his ruling, in which he stated, “In my view of Moi’s health, age, I find that the minimum sentence of 50 years is not an effective life sentence.
“I think it provides some useful opportunity for him to get a release based on his apparent maturity and his rehabilitation if that happens,” The judge said.
The Supreme Court concluded that the minimum sentence of 50 years did not amount to a de facto life sentence.
The Court of Appeals cited several previous cases in which it upheld a minimum of 60 years for a single defendant, and cited the recent US Supreme Court decision, Jones v. Mississippi, which upheld Miller’s conclusion that life without parole for juvenile killers was a violation of the Eighth Amendment Act, but also note That a court can impose such a penalty without specifying the event is “Permanently irreparable.”
He raised Moi’s claim that his punishment was excessive a “essential question” From the law, the Supreme Court found.
But she also emphasized that the sentencing judge correctly followed sentencing procedures in determining Moi’s fate.
The Bedford judge considered: the impact of crime on the community, the integrity of the community, the nature of the crime and other relevant factors.
“In addition to noting that Moye’s rehabilitation needs are substantial, the Court considered the fact that Moye had committed other acts of violence, also at a very young age, and other attempts at rehabilitation…unsuccessful,” The Supreme Court indicated.
The opinion, still quoting Livengood, concluded that Waters’ murder was not a catalyst for the killing for the time being.
“It was premeditated and pre-planned. And not only that, when the plan changed as the wrong person appeared, Muyi still made the decision to kill someone.”
You made it clear that Moi and the other teenager “essentially tormented” Water by riding with her in the back sea, because she was alive for at least 20 minutes after being shot in the neck and head.”
The sentence was 50 years to life “Well backed by the record and reflects thoughtful and thoughtful judgment,” According to the Supreme Court.
Moy can now request that his case be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Hardwicke, Mooy’s partner, is serving a 40-year life sentence while imprisoned in the SCI Forest.