Man convicted in Lillelid slayings files petition challenging sentence

Published: Jun. 7, 2017 at 5:29 PM EDT
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The youngest member of the group convicted in the 1997 killings of the Lillelid family in Greene County filed a petition in federal court last month to challenge his sentence,


Jason Bryant filed the petition on May 17. He was 15 years old when he and five others were sentenced to life in prison with no parole for the role he played in the deaths of Vidar and Delfina Lillelid and their six-year-old daughter Tabitha. Two-year-old Peter survived the shooting.

The family stopped at a rest area in Greene County in April 1997 when they were kidnapped and taken to a remote road in Baileyton, where they were killed.

Bryant's petition last month argues that his life-without-parole sentence was unconstitutional after a recent Supreme Court ruling that "mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments."

Bryant's co-defendant Karen Howell was also a minor at the time of the murders, but a judge ruled in May that her sentence of life without parole was appropriate.