Do teenagers sentenced to die in prison deserve a chance at parole? On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said they do, and the ruling will have an effect on a number of high-profile cases in Minnesota.
The technical ruling will change mandatory life sentences in which parole wasn't even an option for a judge to consider because the High Court ruled that judges need that choice when sentencing juvenile offenders.
The decision will ultimately impact about 2,000 offenders nationwide, but there are seven cases in Minnesota that deal with cold-blooded killings which will now need to be reviewed.
"I represented one of the juveniles, Brian Flowers," said William Mitchell law professor Bad Colbert.
Colbert told FOX 9 News he is still puzzled by Flowers, who stabbed Katricia Daniels 100 times in her South Minneapolis home and killed her 10-year-old son by smashing a TV over his head when he was 16 years old.
No motive was ever discovered, but Flowers was tried as an adult. Since first-degree premeditated murder carries a mandatory life sentence, the judge was left with no option but to lock him up and throw away the key.
"It's more like a death sentence than anything else," said Colbert.
Now, the nation's highest court says that is cruel and unusual punishment.
"Their brain is not fully-formed as juveniles, so at the commission of the crime, they're not as culpable as others -- who are more fully-formed," explained Colbert.
The ruling will also have an impact on Michael Swanson, the 17-year-old from St. Louis Park who killed two Iowa convenience store clerks and never stopped smiling.
Yet, it won't change the sentence for David Brom, who killed his parents, brother and sister with an axe 24 years ago. He is serving four consecutive life sentences, which means he'll be eligible for parole in 120 years.
As for the seven serving life without parole now, it's unclear who will decide their fate in the wake of the ruling -- but the Supreme Court was clear that they deserve at least a remote chance of freedom.