A Las Vegas judge has denied a request to resentence a man who sexually assaulted and killed a 7-year-old girl more than two decades ago inside a Primm casino restroom.
District Judge Douglas Smith enhanced his decision from late last week with a separate special order that laid out the gruesome facts of Jeremy Strohmeyer’s crime, along with the killer’s subsequent racist comments to friends, a confession to police and a computer loaded with child pornography. The judge also pointed to Strohmeyer’s 1998 plea deal with prosecutors before addressing a psychologist’s testimony from this year that those in late adolescence — ages 18 to 20 — do not have the emotional and intellectual maturity of adults.
Two years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who received life sentences for killing a single person should have a chance at parole.
At a hearing in Las Vegas in May, Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University professor who specializes in adolescent psychological development but did not analyze Strohmeyer, told the judge that “young people are more impetuous and impulsive than adults, so they’re more likely to make decisions without thinking about them or thinking about future consequences.”
Strohmeyer was 18 years and 7 months old when he strangled Sherrice Iverson and snapped her neck on May 25, 1997, inside Primadona Resort and Casino.
Strohmeyer pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
For almost two decades, Strohmeyer has argued his lawyers at the time pressured him into taking the deal.
“The court finds that (Strohmeyer’s) actions were not the result of impulsive adolescent behavior, but instead were the result of pre-existing motives and well thought out fantasies,” the judge’s order states. Strohmeyer’s “life sentence is not disproportionate to the crime despite the harshness.”
Smith pointed to state law that establishes 18 as adulthood.
“This court will not disturb the Nevada revised statutes and does not recognize Dr. Steinberg’s opinion as controlling, regarding any facts of this case,” Smith’s decision reads.
Strohmeyer’s attorney, Tom Pitaro, said he plans to appeal Smith’s decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.
“We knew when we started this process that it was going to be a long haul,” Pitaro said. “So we’re in for the long haul.”
A new sentencing for Strohmeyer could lead to the possibility of parole, but prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty if Strohmeyer were granted another hearing.
“Jeremy Strohmeyer committed one of the most infamous and heinous crimes in history, and he needs to spend the rest of his life in prison,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo.