Victim's Family Reacts To New Sentence Order For Murderer - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Victim's Family Reacts To New Sentence Order For Convicted Murderer


     Almost 20 years to the day of the murder of 17-year old Davenport girl the court orders a new sentence for a man convicted as a juvenile in the killing.  After U.S. and Iowa Supreme Court rulings considered mandatory life sentences for juveniles as "cruel and unusual" punishment, now Jason Means convicted in the 1993 killing of Michelle Jensen will have another day in Scott County court.     
     Means and a handful of friends wanted to use Jensen's car to rob a convenience store. When she refused, the teens took her out to the edge of davenport and shot her to death. Means was convicted on six different charges including: second degree murder and first degree kidnapping.
     Means' case was already on appeal it will be one of the first taken up under the new sentencing guidelines. Scott County Attorney Mike Walton says this case is forging new grounds. "There's not really any precedence for this is Iowa. These types of hearings have not been held. What exactly is too much time is not clear," said Walton.
     The pictures around Cheryl Gillett's home of her daughter are a daily reminder of what was taken from her 20 years ago.
     "Michelle was somebody I wanted to be when I grew up. She was a tremendous person," said Gillett.
     A reminder she didn't want to have right before the anniversary of Michelle's death is news that one of her convicted murderers will get a new sentence.  "I didn't think I'd have to worry about it in my lifetime. I thought it was all passed."
     Gillett went to speak to the Iowa legislature three years ago when the U.S. Supreme court ruled juveniles could not be given life-without-parole for non-homicidal crimes. That's where Means' sentence was first put into question because even though he were convicted of second degree murder, his life sentence is tied to a kidnapping charge. 
     "It's like the scab that keeps getting picked. They just never leave it alone."
     From that, means was granted eligibility for parole. That's something Gillett has made peace with. But this recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling she just doesn't understand and it scares her.
     "They'll lessen their sentence and they'll be out. Because they have served almost 20 years. That's very, very disturbing to me."
      Though at the point he's spent more of his life behind bars than not, Gillett doesn't believe means is truly rehabilitated. "If there's anything that was cruel and unusual is what they did to my daughter and anyone of them could have stepped up at anytime and put a stop to it."
     When the re-sentencing comes around she says she hopes the time that has passed doesn't affect the time she thinks is still deserved. The re-sentencing hearing has not been set. County attorneys and the Iowa Attorney General's office are working to develop the best practices in response to these rulings.