Ruling goes against release of convicted juvenile killer

Dec 17, 2010

The state clemency board will recommend that Gov. Chris Gregoire not commute the sentence of a juvenile killer. Barry Massey was just 13 years old when he participated in a brutal murder. The board's 3-2 vote Thursday night reverses a previous clemency board recommendation that he should be let free.

It’s been almost a quarter century since Massey and Michael Harris, age 15, murdered a Pierce County marina owner named Paul Wang. He was shot and stabbed to death. 

Massey and Harris were tried as adults and sentenced to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Massey was one of the youngest juvenile lifers in the country. 

His case has since become a rallying cry for opponents of locking juvenile killers up for life. Now well into his 30's, Massey and his supporters say he's rehabilitated and deserves a second chance. One of Massey's key backers is attorney Richard Mitchell. He advised Gov. Gregoire on Massey’s last plea for release four years ago.

"As a society we do more than lock people up and throw away the key, especially when we’re talking about children. We believe in redemption, we believe in rehabilitation, we believe in forgiveness," says Mitchell.

The victim's widow begged the board to recommend against clemency saying, quote:

"If you release him you will be murdering my family again."

The Board earlier in the day voted unanimously not to recommend clemency for Massey’s accomplice Michael Harris.