State v. Diaz

Maricela Diaz was tried as an adult, convicted, and sentenced to concurrent 80 and 50 year sentences for a kidnapping and murder she participated in at the age of 15 along with her 21-year-old “boyfriend,” Alexander Salgado, who had been sexually and physically abusing Maricela since she was 12 or 13 years old.

Juvenile Law Center in collaboration with Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of South Dakota. We argued that that the trial court abused its discretion in transfer and sentencing by failing to adequately account for Maricela’s youth and associated characteristics as required by Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012) and improperly disregarding mitigating evidence of Maricela’s physical and sexual abuse by her adult co-defendant. We further argued that her sentence provides no “meaningful opportunity” for release as mandated by Miller.

The Supreme Court of South Dakota upheld Maricela’s sentence.