Supreme Court gives rapist Dewayne Pinacle another chance

Albert Morris thought he'd moved past that Sunday morning in 1990 when a 15-year-old kidnapped his daughter, raped her at gunpoint, and then burst into his home, robbed him, and threatened his life.

The culprit, Dewayne Pinacle, earned life without parole in 1991, and Morris hoped he'd never hear his name again.

But now Pinacle might have another shot at freedom thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled last week that it's unconstitutional to give that punishment to underage criminals who haven't killed anyone.


Dewayne Pinacle

Pinacle is one of eight such offenders sentenced in Miami-Dade, and his case begs the question whether some young nonmurderers do deserve to spend the rest of their days behind bars.

"I can understand the principle involved in the court's decision, but considering the facts in my case, it's really hard to accept," says Morris, who asked that his real name not be used.

On April 20, 1990, Pinacle and an 18-year-old named Wayne Seth Grant kidnapped Morris's daughter Amy, then a 21-year-old University of Miami student. They raped her in their car, and Pinacle beat her when he couldn't keep an erection. Later, they forced her to take money from an ATM, and then barged into Morris's house on SW 107th Court and stole a VCR.

The next year, after their arrest and trial, Pinacle and Grant each earned eight life sentences.

Pinacle wasn't the only one in Florida getting that stiff term as a juvenile. Of the 129 young offenders in the country serving life with no parole for non-homicides, 77 are in Florida.

The Supreme Court last week considered another case from the Sunshine State, involving a 17-year-old from Jacksonville named Terrance Jamar Graham, who earned a life term for a home invasion. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled his term was "cruel and unusual."

So what does the decision mean for Pinacle?

He'll be granted a hearing for a new sentence, says Sheila Hopkins, an associate director of Florida Catholic Conference, which supported the court's ruling. "They'll have to consider whether he's been rehabilitated or not," Hopkins says.

The court didn't forbid life terms in cases like Pinacle's, but his new sentence will have to include a chance at parole.

Morris just hopes the court remembers to call him and his daughter to hear their story.

"Sometimes the circumstances of the crime are so bad they don't deserve a second chance," Morris says.


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