Juvenile Killers in Jail for Life Seek a Reprieve
Adam Liptak and Lisa Faye Petak, New York Times | April 20, 2011

CHARLESTON, Mo. — More than a decade ago, a 14-year-old boy killed his stepbrother in a scuffle that escalated from goofing around with a blowgun to an angry threat with a bow and arrow to the fatal thrust of a hunting knife.

The boy, Quantel Lotts, had spent part of the morning playing with Pokémon cards. He was in seventh grade and not yet five feet tall.

Mr. Lotts is 25 now, and he is in the maximum-security prison here, serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for murder.

The victim’s mother, Tammy Lotts, said she lost two children on that November day in 1999. One was a son, Michael Barton, who was 17 when he died. The other was a stepson, Mr. Lotts.

“I don’t feel he’s guilty,” she said of Mr. Lotts in the living room of her modest St. Louis apartment, growing emotional. “But if he was, he’s already done his time. He should be released. Time served. If they think that’s too easy, let somebody look over his case.”

As things stand now, though, the law gives Mr. Lotts no hope of ever getting out.  (Read more)