SUNBURY — A convicted teen killer sentenced to life without parole in 1995 will be evaluated by experts before a Northumberland County judge will hear a Post-Conviction Relief Act motion, made possible by a January U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gives him and more than 2,100 other inmates who committed murders as teenagers the opportunity to seek parole or a new sentence.
On Monday, defense attorney Joseph D’Andrea was given 20 days by county Judge Paige Rosini to file a motion to have Norman Gundrum Jr., who was 15 years old when he fatally stabbed a friend in Milton in 1993, evaluated by psychiatrists and the costs associated with the evaluation. Gundrum appeared in court with his attorney.
“As you know, there are a lot of complexities,” D’Andrea said. “There are thousands of other individuals.”
Rosini said she would review the motion when it was filed and either make a decision based on the paperwork filed or after a hearing if necessary.
Gundrum, now age 39 and incarcerated at SCI-Coal Township, answered only “yes, your honor” when Rosini asked him a series of questions about his understanding of the proceedings. He did not speak any further.
Gundrum was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in 1995, and was sentenced as an adult to life in prison without parole. A felony count of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor count of making an offensive weapon were not considered.
Gundrum is not Northumberland County’s only teen killer eligible to take advantage of the new ruling. Brandon Brown, who was 15 years old when he kidnapped, raped and killed his 6-year-old neighbor in Coal Township in 2001, has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 22 for the same kind of Post-Conviction Relief Act motion.
Brown, now age 30 and incarcerated at SCI-Forest in Marienville, was convicted in 2003, and was sentenced as an adult to a life sentence for first-degree homicide and a consecutive term of 17 to 70 years for two counts of kidnapping and two counts of rape. Two counts of aggravated assault were merged with the murder charge for sentencing purposes. Seven other charges were not considered.
The body of 6-year-old Jasmine Stoud was recovered Aug. 12, 2001, along an old mining road near her home in Shamokin. Her skull had been fractured in several places by a rock found nearby. Jasmine’s DNA was detected on Brown’s body and clothing.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in January expanded a 2012 decision involving a 14-year-old boy that claimed mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles was unconstitutional and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Until that ruling, it was unclear whether the decision was retroactive to juveniles already serving life sentences.
Email Justin Strawser at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLStrawser.