This weekend, news reports started circulating that Santa Fe High School shooting suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis will not face the death penalty. Instead, the maximum sentence he will face will be a life sentence with parole eligibility after 40 years.
In response, someone made an image comparing Pagourtzis with rapper Tay-K, who is currently awaiting trial for alleged involvement in murder and robbery cases. The side-by-side image claims that Tay-K is facing the death penalty for his murder charges, while Pagourtzis isn't.
The image went viral and has been shared by several high-profile social media accounts, including T.I.'s Instagram. It isn't true, however. Tay-K is not facing the death penalty.
In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that judges cannot impose the death penalty on offenders who were younger than age 18 at the time of the murder for which they were charged.
Tay-K and Pagourtzis are both 17 years old, so neither faces the death penalty. The state of Texas considers 17-year-olds suspects to be adults, but the Roper v. Simmons decision trumps state law and protects individuals who are under the age of 18 from the death penalty.
For more information on the specifics of death penalty laws and the history of execution of juveniles in the United States, the Death Penalty Information Center's website has a helpful breakdown here.
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