BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A judge has refused to reduce the life sentence for a North Dakota man who was a teenager when he fatally shot his parents, brother and sister in 1992.
South Central District Judge Bobbi Weiler said in a 22-page order filed Wednesday that a law regarding sentence reductions went into effect after Michael Neugebauer’s sentence was final and can’t be applied retroactively.
In addition, Weiler said the nature of the offense committed by Neugebauer “weighs heavily against a sentence reduction," the Bismarck Tribune reported. The judge said Neugebauer shot every victim at least two times at the family’s Menoken-area home east of Bismarck.
Neugebauer's case was charged in adult court. A state law that addresses sentence reductions for juveniles convicted as adults did not go into effect until August 2017 and doesn't apply to cases before that, the judge said.
Neugebauer filed a motion for a sentence reduction hearing in 2020, which was denied. He appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court was wrong to deny his motion without a hearing, and the justices agreed.
Neugebauer testified at a hearing in March that he tolerated years of abuse before he shot his father and then entered a sort of tunnel vision in which he shot the three other family members.
“I couldn’t stay in that situation,” he testified.