Missouri inmate Bobby Bostic, who was sentenced to 241 years in prison for a series of robberies he committed when he was 16, has been paroled thanks to an unlikely ally – the same judge who sentenced him to death in prison would have.
Bostic, now 43, left Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City on Wednesday after serving 27 years and was greeted by dozens of overjoyed family members and well-wishers.
But the first person to hug Bostic was retired judge Evelyn Baker, who told him “you’re going to die in the Department of Corrections” when she sentenced him in 1995.
Baker has since changed his mind about Bostic’s sentence and worked for four years to secure his release, even appearing on his behalf at a state parole board hearing.
“I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, but it was something I wanted to do,” she told 48 Hour correspondent Erin Moriarty. “Because it was time for Bobby to come home and be with his family. He wasn’t the boy I judged.”
The board granted Bostic parole in December and scheduled his release for November 9, just in time for Thanksgiving, which he now plans to spend with his family and Judge Baker.
“The Bobby Bostic I put in jail is not the Bobby Bostic that got out,” Baker told Moriarty. “Bobby did what a lot of people can’t. He created himself.”
Bostic was 16 in December 1995 when he and another teenager robbed a group of six people who were delivering Christmas presents to a needy family at gunpoint.
Prosecutors said Bostic fired a shot that grazed a victim and that he and the other teenager then kidnapped a woman by car and robbed her before releasing her.
Then-Circuit Judge Baker believed at the time that it was unlikely Bostic could be rehabilitated, and she sentenced him to 18 counts to a total of 241 years in prison, with all counts serving sequentially, meaning he would not be eligible for parole until he was 112 years old.
“You made your choice,” Baker Bostic said at his sentencing. “You’re going to have to live with your choice and you’re going to die with your choice because, Bobby Bostic, you’re going to die in the Department of Corrections.”
She later said, “I don’t feel anything for you. I feel for you the same way you seem to feel for these victims, and you feel for your family.”
In an interview last month, Bostic said he wasn’t mad at Baker for her decision.
“It motivated me to say, ‘One day, if I ever get out, I’m going to see her. And she’ll realize the mistake she made when she sees the person I’ve become,'” he told CBS.
Bostic found hope for a time in a 2010 US Supreme Court ruling that banned life sentences for anyone under 18 for non-homicide crimes, but the Supreme Court declined to hear his case in 2019.
After retiring from the bench, Baker regretted her decision in Bostic’s case, and in 2018 publicly called for her to be thrown out because she was grossly unfair.
“What I learned too late is that young people’s brains are not static; they are maturing,” she wrote in an essay published by The Washington Post.
In a 2021 interview with CBS, Baker doubled down on her reassessment of the case, describing the 241-year sentence she handed down a “little boy” as “insane.”
Despite the prospect of dying in prison, Bostic changed his life after discovering his love for reading. He earned an associate degree and wrote 15 books behind bars, including a biography of his mother.
After the Supreme Court dismissed Bostic’s case, the American Civil Liberties Union worked with the Missouri Legislature to pass legislation based on his case that would allow teenagers serving sentences for crimes other than murder, essentially receive a parole board review after 15 years.
The Bobby Bostic Act was passed in 2021, allowing his namesake and other inmates like him to apply for parole.
None of Bostic’s victims opposed his release — and one even wrote a letter to the state parole board asking the board to release him.
With mail wires
https://nypost.com/2022/11/15/bobby-bostic-serving-241-year-sentence-freed-on-parole/ Bobby Bostic is serving a 241-year suspended sentence