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: Martize M. Smolley (16)
Victims: Kelly Houser, Amy Allen
Crimes: Two counts, felony first degree murder & other charges
Crime date: June 14, 2004 in Peoria, Illinois

Martize Smolley shot and killed a mother and daughter who had stopped at an ATM on their way to an ice cream parlor.

On the evening of June 14, 2004, Martize Smolley announced to his friend Monterius Hinkle that he was going to “get some money.” He armed himself with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and headed out toward Jefferson Street.

At about the same time, Kelly Houser and her teenage daughter, Amy Allen, decided to get some ice cream and enjoy a summer evening together. On their way to the ice cream parlor, Kelly stopped at an ATM to get some cash.

From across Jefferson Street, Smolley saw Kelly park near the ATM. He approached the car from behind and stuck the handgun into the vehicle through the driver’s door window. He demanded money. Frightened and surprised, Kelly started to drive the car away.

Smolley fired the weapon. The bullet struck Kelly in the left cheek, exited through the back right side of her head, and then entered the left side of Amy’s head and lodged in her brain. Both victims died instantly.

Smolley fled to his apartment. He told Hinkle, “I just shot some lady down there.”

The gun used to kill Kelly and Amy was discovered under Smolley’s bed.

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.