AMES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa inmate who was a juvenile when she was sentenced to life in prison in the late 1980s was resentenced Friday to 25 years in prison, a development that paves the way for her release.
The sentence means that Yvette Louisell, 43, could be eligible for release because of how much time she has already served, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/MFCjel ). The case will not go before the Iowa Parole Board.
District Court Judge James Ellefson handed down the order, which is scheduled to take effect Feb. 10. That gives Story County Attorney Stephen Holmes time to appeal and ask for a stay of the decision.
A jury convicted Louisell in 1988 of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 40-year-old Keith Stilwell, of Ames. Louisell met Stilwel while both were taking classes at Iowa State University. She was arrested after trying to use his credit card at a local store.
She said he tried to sexually assault her, and she claimed self-defense at her trial. She was 17 at the time of the stabbing, but she was 18 when she began serving her sentence.
During the court proceedings Friday, Louisell's attorneys said she should be resentenced because of her record in prison. But Holmes argued that a sentence with a specific number of years should not be given out because Iowa law hasn't established it in such a case. Ellefson, the judge, said lawmakers have had time to rewrite the law.
The resentencing follows an Iowa Supreme Court decision last summer that determined mandatory life sentences for juveniles were illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court reached the same conclusion in a 2012 ruling.
Louisell is one of 37 current Iowa inmates who were given life sentences as juveniles. Another inmate who was given the same life sentence, Kristina Fetters, 33, was released in December into hospice care. She has been diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer.
Louisell wore an orange jumpsuit at Friday's proceedings. She later returned to the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com