Trina Garnett, a 14-year-old mentally disabled girl, was charged with second-degree murder after setting a fire that tragically killed two people in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was tried in adult court and sentenced to die in prison.
Trina was homeless and had suffered severe abuse, trauma, and mental illness. Her trial judge had no choice but to impose a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole, although he remarked “it is a deplorable situation that the state does not provide facilities where young people such as Ms. Garnett can receive help while learning in a secure environment.”
EJI took on Trina’s case as part of its work challenging life-without-parole sentences imposed on young teens. In 2012, EJI won a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court barring mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children.