On November 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences. In preparation for oral arguments, JLWOP: Faces & Cases will be an on-going series on The Foundry that will tell real stories about juvenile offenders who are currently serving LWOP sentences.
Defendant: Eric Hancock (15)
Victim: Jamal Mouzafar
Crimes: Criminal homicide and other charges
Crime date: August 26, 2007 in Pittsburgh, Penn.
Eric Hancock shot and killed a clerk while robbing a local convenience store.
Jamal Mouzafar was born and lived in Syria. After an accident, one his legs was amputated, and he came to the United States for medical treatment. He lived with his uncle, owner the A&E Deli Food Mart, where he worked as a clerk and cashier. Eric Hancock patronized the delicatessen frequently, and Mouzafar and his uncle had even offered Hancock a job.
In the summer of 2007, Hancock and his cousin Jeremy decided to rob a store. Hancock suggested that they rob the A&E Deli because it was nearby.
About a week later, on August 26, 2007, Hancock entered the deli alone, armed with a handgun. Mouzafar was behind the counter. Hancock jumped on the counter and ordered Mouzafar to put his hands in the air. Mouzafar complied. Hancock demanded access to the store safe, but Mouzafar could not understand what Hancock was saying. Frustrated, Hancock shot Mouzafar three times.
As Mouzafar lay dying on the floor, Hancock ransacked the store. He managed to steal about $400.
The entire incident was captured by a surveillance camera. After he was arrested, Hancock confessed.
Charles D. Stimson is Senior Legal Fellow and Andrew M. Grossman is Senior Legal Policy Analyst in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.