Josh Phillips – Child Killer Wants A Second Shot
A Jacksonville man, Josh Phillips, convicted in 1999 for a murder that occurred when he was 14 years old, will be getting a new sentencing hearing later this year.
Joshua Phillips, who is now 32, killed 8-year-old neighbor Maddie Clifton in 1998 when he was 14 and hid her body under a bed in his home. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Josh Phillips and The Changing Law
But the U.S. Supreme Court has since ruled that it is cruel and unusual punishment for a juvenile to get a mandatory sentence of life without parole, and also said in a separate ruling that the decision is retroactive to people who are already in prison for life.
The rulings do not prohibit a juvenile from being sentenced to life in prison but says the state cannot have it be without a chance at parole. A recently passed Florida law mandates that juveniles convicted of first-degree murder get a minimum of 40 years in prison with a judge reviewing the case after 25 years.
Assistant State Attorney, Bernie de la Rionda, said his office would seek to put Phillips back in prison for life, saying the severity of his crime meant Josh Phillips should never get out of prison.
Phillips had a status hearing in front of Circuit Judge, Waddell Wallace, but nothing was decided. Wallace set a hearing for the week of Sept. 7 and said he wanted to set a date for Phillips’ sentencing hearing at that time.
Phillips was not there in person. According to prison records is now locked up at the Cross City Correctional Institution.
Attorneys for Josh Phillips are also seeking to throw out his conviction. They are arguing that his original trial lawyer did an incompetent job defending him. It’s unclear whether the motion for a new trial will occur at the same time as the sentencing hearing.
credit – jacksonville .com