Chicago, IL – A man who murdered a Chicago police officer when he was 16 years old was resentenced to only 40 years in prison on Monday.
Chicago Police Officer Brian Strouse was working as a plainclothes tactical officer at about 2 a.m. on June 30, 2001 when he encountered Hector Delgado in an alley, the Officer Down Memorial Page reported.
Officer Strouse was shot once in the head and once in his bullet-proof vest.
The officer was transported to the hospital but the wound to his head proved to be fatal, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Delgado was convicted of first-degree murder on Sept. 17, 2003 and sentenced to natural life in prison.
But the U.S. Supreme Court banned life sentences for juveniles in 2012, so Delgado was back in court on Nov. 4 seeking a reduced sentence, WFLD reported.
In 2012, the court held that teenage killers couldn’t automatically be sentenced to life without parole.
“Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the decision, according to WTOP.
And then four years later, in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court made that ruling retroactive, opening up the door for numerous prisoners sentenced as juveniles to have their life sentences reviewed, WRC reported.
Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood resentenced Delgado to 40 years in prison after two hours of testimony, WFLD reported.
The judge said it was the maximum sentence he could impose on a juvenile.
With the reduction in sentence, Delgado will likely be released before he is 57 years old, according to WFLD.
The family of Officer Strouse attended the hearing and expressed outrage at the new sentence.
"You commit a crime, I don't care what age you are, 16 years old, out at two in the morning, a 40-caliber weapon shooting at police, you got what you got the first time,” the officer’s sister, Cindy, told WFLD.
The police union was also in the courtroom gallery for the decision.
"Today, they only gave 40 years to a person who murdered a police officer in uniform, performing his duties, trying to make the city safer. There was an injustice that happened again here today,” Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham said.
What’s more, the cop killer could end up serving even less time than his new sentence indicated, WFLD reported.
Delgado’s public defenders said they are still fighting the battle to reduce the cop killer’s sentence.
They explained that there is an ongoing appeal of day-for-day time for juveniles that could mean Delgado would be free in a couple of years if the judge permits it to be applied to his case, WFLD reported.
Prosecutors and victims all over the United States have been batting with judges over the resentencing of violent offenders who were juveniles when they murdered people.
Perhaps the most famous juvenile killer seeking resentencing is Beltway Sniper Lee Malvo.
Malvo was 17 years old in 2002 when he helped his adult partner target and kill 10 people in the Maryland, DC, Virginia metropolitan area, WRC reported.
The shootings, which went on over a three-week period, paralyzed and terrified the region.
Now Malvo’s attorneys have said their client deserves a new trial because of the same court ruling that ended up reducing Delgado’s sentence.
The state of Virginia has argued that Malvo was not sentenced to a “mandatory” term because the judge in his case had the option to suspend part of his prison term, but opted not to.
So that case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, who heard arguments in October and is expected to rule later this year.