Courts

Barry Massey gets new sentence, now eligible for parole

Staff writerJune 6, 2014 

Barry Massey is flanked by defense attorneys David Zuckerman, left, and Maureen Devlin in Pierce County Superior Court on Friday.

DREW PERINE — The News Tribune Buy Photo

One of Pierce County’s most notorious killers now is eligible for parole.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Larkin erased Barry Massey’s original sentence of life without the possibility of release and resentenced him to 25 years to life.

That makes the 40-year-old Massey, 14 when he was sent away forever, eligible to petition the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board for release. He’s already served more than 25 years.

It was a day friends and relatives of Paul Wang, killed by Massey and co-defendant Michael Harris, hoped they’d never see, and they voiced their displeasure through a representative during a hearing before Judge Thomas Larkin.

But Larkin had no choice.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding the case Miller v. Alabama, ruled it was unconstitutional for juveniles to receive automatic sentences of life without the possibility of parole.

Such sentences constituted cruel and unusual punishment for people's whose brains still were developing and who might not have the wisdom or judgment to always know the impact of their actions, the high court ruled.

The Legislature last year passed a law eliminating mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. Instead, the law now makes people convicted of the crime before they turn 16 eligible for parole after 25 years.

The law also was made retroactive.

Massey was 13 and Harris 15 when they entered Wang’s shop, shot him twice and then stabbed him numerous times before looting the store of candy, cash and merchandise.

Both were prosecuted as adults and convicted of the state's highest crime - aggravated first-degree murder - and sentenced to life without parole.

Massey apologized to Wang’s family and the Steilacoom community Friday.

Massey's supporters rejoiced in the hall outside court after Larkin’s decision.

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