State v. Clontz
Casi Clontz 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, which included hiring a psychologist and legal expert, Sussman filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief in Stanly County. Following a hearing on December 19, 2012, the Honorable Theodore Royster ordered Casi’s immediate release. At the time of her release, Casi had spent 18 years in North Carolina’s Department of Corrections, almost all of it separated from her mother.