Life sentence stands in '09 sub shop kidnapping and slaying

DETROIT (AP) — A life sentence will stand for a man who was a teenager when he was involved in a notorious kidnapping and murder that began at a sandwich shop in suburban Detroit, the Michigan Supreme Court said Friday.

The court heard arguments in March but decided to drop the appeal of Ihab Masalmani with a two-sentence order. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, joined by two other justices, disagreed with the result.

In 2009, Matt Landry, 21, was abducted from a fast-food parking lot in Eastpointe. His body was found days later in a burned-out Detroit house.

Masalmani, who was 17 at the time, has twice been sentenced in Macomb County to life in prison, the latest in 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court said teenagers can't be given a no-parole term without a full airing of their childhood and other factors.

McCormack said “Masalmani’s crime was vicious.” But she said he deserved to have another hearing where Judge Diane Druzinski could again weigh certain factors outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court that might give a young offender a chance at parole.

“The trial court’s sentencing decision must be a reasonable and principled outcome based on case-specific detailed factual circumstances. That did not occur here,” McCormack said.

She said she was troubled by Druzinski's analysis of Masalmani's potential for rehabilitation in prison. He's now 28.

“The trial court cited the state’s inability to provide Masalmani with rehabilitative treatment — a fact completely out of Masalmani’s control — as a justification for his lifelong incarceration,” McCormack said.

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