Federal Court Reverses Conviction and Death-In-Prison Sentence Imposed on 14-Year-Old Missouri Child


On Monday, March 24, 2008, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri reversed the conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole imposed on Phillip Shaw for a crime that occurred when he was 14 years old.

Phillip was 14 when he was accused of a homicide in Missouri. At a joint trial with a 20-year-old co-defendant, the prosecutor illegally excluded women from jury service. The co-defendant’s lawyer adequately challenged the discriminatory jury selection at trial and on appeal; the co-defendant obtained relief and has been released from prison. Phillip’s lawyer did not make an adequate appeal and he remained sentenced to die in prison.

Last year, EJI filed a challenge to Phillip Shaw’s conviction and sentence in federal court. The district court found that Phillip’s trial lawyer failed to meet constitutional requirements for effective assistance of counsel and held that the State of Missouri violated Phillip’s constitutional rights when it excluded a potential juror on account of her gender. On Monday, the court reversed Phillip’s conviction and sentence and ordered a new trial.