Casi Clontz’s sentence of life imprisonment, which she received when she was a teenager, was vacated by the Honorable Theodore Royster in Stanly County on December 19, 2012. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Royster ordered from the bench that Casi be immediately released from custody. At the time of her release, Casi had spent 18 years in North Carolina’s Department of Corrections.
Casi was 15-years-old in 1993 when she and her mother were charged with hiring another teenager to kill Casi’s abusive step-father. The State charged both Casi and her mother with First Degree Murder, cut a deal with the shooter, and tried both mom and daughter before a death-qualified jury in Stanly County. Both were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The shooter was released from prison in 2009.
Jake Sussman was appointed by North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services to investigate whether recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court about sentencing teenagers to life imprisonment provided an avenue for relief for Casi. After extensive investigation and retaining a forensic psychologist and legal expert to support a claim that Casi’s trial lawyer had been ineffective at trial, Sussman filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief in Stanly County that challenged Casi’s conviction and sentence.