Chaparro v. ShinnAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court answered a certified question by holding that a sentence imposing "life without possibility of parole for twenty-five years" means the convicted defendant is eligible for parole after serving twenty-five years' imprisonment despite Ariz. Rev. Stat. 41-1604.09's prohibition of parole for persons convicted of offenses occurring on or after January 1, 1994 and that a court lacks jurisdiction to correct and illegally lenient sentence absent timely correction or appeal.
Defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder committed in 1995. The trial court sentenced Defendant to "life without possibility of parole for 25 years." After serving twenty-four years of his sentence, Defendant sued the Arizona Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. 1983 asserting his entitlement to parole eligibility. The State sought a determination as to whether Defendant's sentence entitled him to parole eligibility. The district court issued a certification order. The Supreme Court held (1) regardless of section 41-1604.09, Defendant was eligible for parole after serving twenty-five years pursuant to his sentence because the sentencing hearing and order manifested the trial court's intent for Defendant to be parole eligible; and (2) Defendant's illegally lenient sentence was final under Arizona law.