Bryan Sheppard’s youth won him a new sentencing hearing in federal court for the deaths of six Kansas City firefighters in 1988.
On Wednesday, his attorneys will attempt to persuade a judge that Sheppard did not deserve the life sentence he originally received.
They are asking that he be granted immediate release with time served.
Federal prosecutors, however, are arguing that Sheppard should once again be sentenced to life in prison.
Sheppard, now 45, was 17 in 1988 when a fire set at a Kansas City construction site sparked a massive explosion that killed fire captains Gerald Halloran and James Kilventon, and firefighters Thomas Fry, Luther Hurd Jr., Robert D. McKarnin and Michael Oldham.
Sheppard and four others were ultimately prosecuted for setting the arson fire and each was sentenced in 1997 to life in prison with no chance of parole.
But in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for someone younger than 18 to receive a mandatory life sentence. The Supreme Court ruled that before imposing such a sentence on a juvenile, a judge must first consider such factors as the juvenile’s lack of maturity and the possibility of rehabilitation.
Sheppard was the only defendant in the case who was a juvenile at the time.
The new sentencing hearing for Sheppard is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in front of U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. in Kansas City.
The hearing will only pertain to sentencing factors, and not the claims of innocence made by Sheppard and his co-defendants.