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Review Panel unconstitutional?

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April 1, 2004

Bainbridge - District Attorney, Brown Moseley says the panel reduced a manslaughter sentence to only 8 years imprisonment for no justifiable reason. He claims the panel's actions and their mere existence is unconstitutional.

Two years ago Sandra Widner pleaded guilty to the voluntary manslaughter of her boyfriend Truett Turner and was sentenced to 15 years in a state penitentiary.

Moseley says, "She went in there, and she pled guilty and gave no excuse."

However, the same day Widner was sentenced, she petitioned the Sentence Review Panel of Georgia to review and reduce her sentence. They did. She now only has to serve eight years for the crime.

"I was absolutely appalled when I saw that this sentence had been reviewed and reduced to eight years to serve," says Moseley.

He believes the review not only violates the panel's rules, the panel itself is completely unconstitutional.

Moseley says, "Their own rules say that they will not review a negotiated sentence unless it's for a very extraordinary reason. There's nothing extraordinary in this case that would justify this kind of reduction. Our Constitution says that judges are the ones to impose sentences in criminal cases, and that's the way it is."

Moseley hopes the outcome of this lawsuit will result in the panel being dismantled, and the original sentenced enforced. A hearing is set for May 21st in Fulton County.

posted at 5:23 PM by karen.collier@walb.com