Man who was minor when killing occurred released from Ariz. prison

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Ray Chatman By Christina O'Haver Ray Chatman By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX (AP) -- A 62-year-old man who served more than 44 years in prison for a killing that occurred in Phoenix when he was 17 has been released.

Ray Chatman was freed on Monday from the Florence prison by the Arizona Department of Corrections, three days after he pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court to second-degree murder and was resentenced to time already served.

Chatman previously was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in the killing of convenience store clerk Kenneth Meiner during a robbery on March 7, 1970.

He was resentenced under an agreement with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Chatman's case was reopened because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to a mandatory term of life without parole. Chatman was a minor when Meiner was killed.

The county attorney's office said the high court's ruling meant Chatman would have to be resentenced to a parole-eligible term.

A second man convicted in the case, Melvin Lee Taylor, was 18 at the time of the killing. He and Chatman were initially sentenced to death, but 1973 appeals to the Arizona Supreme Court resulted in the sentences being reduced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Taylor was released on parole in 1987 after then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt commuted his sentence.

The county attorney's office said Chatman apparently never applied for commutation. Proceedings began anew when he applied for a review of his case in June 2013. The county attorney's office said that's when it learned of Chatman's situation.

The Department of Corrections' inmate profile for Chatman said he had more than a dozen disciplinary offenses during the 1980s and 1990s, most for disobeying orders and also for possessing narcotics and stealing.
 
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