Roper Vs. Simmons
By: Alyssa Rosales
Instructor name: Ann-Marie Delgado
Course: Constitutional Rights/ POSU 344
Roper v. Simmons 543 U.S551 (2005); it will specifically address the arrest, trial and the legal issues it raised. It will explain and identify the holdings of the lower courts, as well as the decision of the U.S Supreme Court, and where the law should be headed. Christopher Simmons, who was seventeen years old, and two of his friends by the name of Charles Benjamin (fifteen years old) and John Tessmer (sixteen years old) had a detailed conversation about committing a murder. Christopher Simmons had a premeditated plan, which included, burglary (breaking and entering), robbery and murder. Simmons wanted to bond and tie the victim and discard her off the bridge. Simmons convinced his two friends that they would not be convicted for these acts because they are still considered juveniles “under the age of eighteen”. On September 9th, at approximately 2 a.m. the three young men met up with each to carry out Simmons plan to murder the victim. Tessmer left the group after changing his mind, shortly after they met up. Simmons and Benjamin still decided to carry out the plan; they broke into the victim’s home by reaching through an open window and unlocking the back door. When Simmons and Benjamin were in the house, Simmons turned on the hall light, which woke up the owner/ victim, Shirley Crook. Shirley asked, “Who’s there?” Simmons followed the voice and went to her bedroom. Upon arrival, he recognized her from a prior car accident they both were a part of. Simmons and Benjamin gained control over her and duct tapped her mouth and eyes closed, bound her hands together and placed her in her own minivan. The two young men then drove Shirley Crooks to the state park. When they arrived, they made sure that the tape was still secured tightly around her wrist and placed a towel over her head and led her to a railroad bridge over the Meramec River. When they arrived to the bridge they hog-tied her with electrical wire, duct tapped the rest of her head and face and threw Crooks off the bridge. Simmons and Benjamin watched her drown. After this incident, Simmons was said to be bragging about the murder to his friends. He told his friends that he killed Crooks because she saw his face. Simmons then later admitted that the accident was his motive for killing Shirley Crook. Christopher Simmons who was attending high school was arrested and transported to the Fenton police station in Missouri. An officer stated the Miranda Rights to Simmons; Mr. Simmons waived his right to have an attorney present during questioning. Simmons agreed to speak with investigators. After being interrogated for nearly two hours Simmons confessed to the murder of Shirley Crook and agreed to allow the police to videotape him reenacting the murder at the initial crime scene. The Missouri State Superior Court sought the death penalty even though Simmons was only seventeen years old. Simmons’ was seventeen at the time of the crime and that placed him in the criminal jurisdiction of Missouri’s Juvenile Court system so Simmons was tried as an adult. The charges against Simmons were kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and murder in the first degree. Missouri’s Superior Court judge told jurors they could consider Simmons age as a mitigating factor. At trial, the State’s prosecutor introduced Simmons videotape reenactment and his confession of the crime. The State agreed to dismiss the conspiracy charges against John Tessmer in exchange for his testimony against Simmons. Tessmer testified that Simmons and Benjamin discussed the plan to commit the murder and how it was going to be carried out. He also testified how Simmons’ was bragging about the murder afterwards. Simmons defense attorney called no witness. The trial then proceeded to the penalty/sentencing phase after the jury returned a verdict of murder. The prosecution, who was seeking...
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