Georgia’s high court will hear oral arguments Monday in the appeal of a 27-year-old Tift County man who was sentenced to life plus 20 years for rape when he was a 14-year-old boy.
Jonas Brinkley is appealing on the grounds that his sentence violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and that greater-than-life sentences should not be imposed on cases not involving homicide.
According to prosecutors, Brinkley committed the rape while a 19-year-old friend, Lakendrick Carter, detained the victim's boyfriend in another room. Brinkley and Carter also stole $180 from the couple before leaving their apartment.
Carter was given 15 years in prison plus another five years of probation in exchange for his testimony against Brinkley.
Five days after his sentencing, Brinkley, through his attorney, filed a motion for a new trial. Ten years, later in 2010, Brinkley’s new attorney filed another motion for a new trial. That motion was rejected in February 2011. Attorneys from The Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic of Emory University’s School of Law now represent Brinkley.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the past that “children are not merely miniature adults.” Brinkley’s attorney’s, in briefs filed with the Georgia Supreme Court, contended “kids are different.”
Attorney’s for the state argue that Brinkley’s age in no way diminished the danger to the victim.
Photo by Georgia Department of Corrections