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CT Court Tosses 60-Year Term Based On False 'Superpredator' Theory

The Connecticut Supreme Court threw out a man’s 60-year prison sentence imposed in 1997 because the sentencing judge said he was a “charter member” of the “superpredator” group, a debunked theory from the 1990s that warned thousands of young Black men with no regard for human life would soon prowl the streets committing violent crimes, the CT Mirror reports. Keith Belcher, now 43, will be resentenced for crimes he committed when he was a teen. Belcher was 14 in1993 when he pulled a gun on an elderly woman unloading groceries from her car outside her apartment and demanded her purse. When she told him it was upstairs, he led her at gunpoint to her apartment, where he sexually assaulted her twice and pistol-whipped her. In1997, Superior Court Judge Michael Hartmere sentenced Belcher to 60 years in prison. Belcher appealed in 2017.

Judge Robert Devlin,, now the state’s first inspector general charged with investigating police officers’ use of deadly force, denied the appeal. Belcher said Hartmere's remarks relied on materially false information. Devlin ruled that the superpredator theory was not “information.” The Connecticut Supreme Court disagreed. “In summary, by invoking the superpredator theory to sentence the young, Black male defendant in the present case, the sentencing court, perhaps even without realizing it, relied on materially false, racial stereotypes that perpetuate systemic inequities—demanding harsher sentences—that date back to the founding of our nation,” Justice Raheem Mullins wrote.


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