Man locked up for murder committed as a teen loses bid to see his sentence reduced

A teenager lost his re-sentencing bid for murder.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - A teen convicted of first-degree murder for gunning down a rival at a Kentwood roller rink in 2006 has lost a bid to be re-sentenced again.

Giovanni Casper was 17 when he fatally shot 16-year-old Kenneth Dear at Kentwood Fun Spot skating rink at 52nd Street and South Division Avenue. His life sentence was overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court said mandatory life sentences for juveniles was unconstitutional.

He was convicted of the Nov. 12, 2006 shooting death of Kenneth Dear, who died from a single gunshot to the chest.  Casper and Dear were from rival gangs and were at the roller rink for a large social event, according to testimony at trial.

Casper was re-sentenced to between 40 and 60 years in prison for first-degree murder. Casper's appeal sought to have that sentence revisited.

Casper argued that the Sept. 30, 2016 re-sentencing hearing should have been adjourned so an updated presentence investigation report could be obtained.

The Appeals Court disagreed. Justices noted that Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber, who presided over the re-sentencing hearing, received a report from the Michigan Department  of Corrections that included information that Casper earned his GED and two positive statements from Casper's work evaluations.

The court also received a re-sentencing memorandum from Casper that included circumstances of his childhood and the facts of the shooting, including Casper's claim that the gun accidentally discharged when he was punched and fell over, the Appeals Court noted.

Casper is at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson.  As it stands, Casper, now 28, will be 59 years old before he can be considered for release.

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