The state Supreme Court has ruled that a teen murderer was properly sentenced to life in prison without parole, and that such a sentence is not unconstitutional, cruel, or excessive. The decision comes from the appeal of Omer Ninham, who was convicted of first degree intentional homicide for the 1998 death of a 13-year-old boy and given a life sentence.
Ninham, who was 14 at the time, was part of a group of teens who attacked Zong Vang and chased him to the fifth floor of the St. Vincent’s parking garage in Green Bay. Ninham helped dangle Vang over the edge at the top of the ramp. The other boy let go of Vang’s ankles, and then Ninham released his wrists, dropping the boy about 45 feet to the ground below.
Ninham’s attorney had argued that, while the crime was severe, Ninham should not face life in prison without the chance of ever redeeming himself for a crime he committed at the age of 14. His defense also argued that new research in adolescent brain development shows Ninham does have a chance to reform.
The court rejected those claims, pointing out that life in prison is acceptable for such a “horrific and senseless” crime, noting also that Ninham refused to take responsibility for Vang’s death even after he was convicted.