Vallejo v. United States, No. 14-2818 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
In 2005, Martinez, Vallejo, and 47 others were indicted for crimes committed while they were members of the Milwaukee chapter of the Latin Kings gang organization. Martinez and Vallejo pled guilty to a RICO offense, 18 U.S.C. 1962, and admitted to engaging in predicate racketeering activities, including a 2003 murder. Vallejo, who was 17 years old at the time, and Martinez, who was 16, each fired several shots at the victim. Martinez also pled guilty to attempted murder of a rival gang member; Vallejo’s plea agreement included two attempted murders. All of the attempted murders occurred while the defendants were under the age of 18. In both cases, the court imposed the “maximum sentence”—life in prison.. Neither Martinez nor Vallejo filed a direct appeal. In 2012, the Supreme Court held, in Miller v. Alabama, that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for juveniles. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of their motion to vacate, set aside, or correct their sentences under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Martinez and Vallejo’s life sentences were imposed after an individualized sentencing, and not by statutory mandate,and did not violate Miller.