Saturday, July 21, 2007
© Copyright 2015
Gwinnett Daily Post
ATLANTA - Genarlow Wilson's fate now rests with the seven justices of Georgia's top court.
The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments Friday on whether the young man serving a 10-year prison term for consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager should be freed. The courtroom was packed with dozens of Wilson supporters and television news cameras.
A decision could come in weeks.
Wilson's lengthy sentence has drawn the national spotlight and spurred angry protests. The attention prompted Georgia legislators in 2006 to change the state sentencing law that placed Wilson behind bars for a decade.
On Friday, his lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, urged the justices to uphold a Monroe County judge's ruling that called Wilson's sentence 'a grave miscarriage of justice' and ordered him released. She said the sentence violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
'Every day that a defendant spends in jail is a precious day in their life,' Bernstein said.
A lawyer with the state countered the judge overstepped his bounds when he effectively re-sentenced Wilson in June. Senior Assistant Attorney General Paula Smith told the justices that if the ruling stands it could be used as ammunition by some 1,300 child molesters looking for a ticket out of prison.