Bobby Bostic, 42, Sentenced to 241 Years as a Teen, Granted Parole After Judge Changes Stance

Bobby Bostic, a St. Louis man who was sentenced to a total of 241 years on 18 charges in 1997 for a robbery committed in 1995, has been granted parole after the judge who sentenced him retired and advocated for a change in his sentence.

Bostic was 16 in Dec. 1995 when he and Donald Huston, 18 at the time, robbed a group of people of Christmas presents being donated to a local family in need. Prosecutors said both men fired guns at the group, causing minor injuries, before stealing another woman's car and robbing her.

Huston agreed to a plea deal to spend 30 years in prison, while Bostic decided to go to trial. By the time of his sentencing in 1997, Circuit Judge Evelyn Baker said she did not believe Bostic could be rehabilitated and ruled that his 241 years of sentences were to be served one after the other.

The sentence meant Bostic wouldn't be eligible for parole until he was at least 112 years old, essentially guaranteeing he would die in prison.

Missouri's parole board granted parole to Bostic Monday, and he will be released next November, according to one of his key advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

Baker eventually retired from the bench and in 2018 wrote an essay in the Washington Post that said she regretted the sentence, advocating for it to be thrown out so he could receive parole.

She said the developments in medical studies of the brains of young people over the past 20 years gave her a new perspective into how crimes committed by young people don't always indicate future behavior because their brains are still developing and are more likely to be rehabilitated.

St. Louis, Bobby Bostic, Life Sentence
Bobby Bostic poses for a portrait July 10, 2014 in the visitation room at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Mo., where he has served 23 years of a 241-year sentence for a 1995 robbery. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri says the 42-year-old Bostic was granted parole and will be released from prison late next year. Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP File

Baker said at the time that she intended for Bostic to "die in the Department of Corrections."

Bostic for a while found hope in a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed life sentences for people under 18 for non-homicide crimes. The Supreme Court, however, declined to hear his case in 2019.

"What I learned too late is that young people's brains are not static; they are in the process of maturing," Baker wrote in her essay.

When the U.S. Supreme Court denied his case, the ACLU worked with the Missouri Legislature to pass a law based on Bostic's case that allows teens imprisoned essentially for life for crimes other than murder to get a parole board review after 15 years.

The Missouri Department of Corrections on Tuesday confirmed that Bostic is set to be released from prison next Nov. 9. Until then, the department can offer Bostic a variety programs, including job readiness classes and family reunification programs, department spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said.

"We can connect him to various re-entry programs to help ensure his success in society," Pojmann said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

St. Louis, Bobby Bostic, Life Sentence
Judge Evelyn Baker presides over a tax credit case in St. Louis Circuit Court in in St. Louis, Mo. on Feb. 19, 2004. The former St. Louis judge, who sentenced a teenager to more than 240 years in prison, says she "deeply" regrets her ruling and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to give him the opportunity for reform. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri says 42-year-old Bostic was granted parole and will be released from prison late next year. Huy Richard Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP File