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News / Northwest

Appeals court orders Freeman School shooter to be resentenced

By Emma Epperly, The Spokesman-Review
Published: April 16, 2024, 7:28pm

SPOKANE — An appeals court on Tuesday ordered Freeman School shooter Caleb Sharpe to be resentenced.

Sharpe was 15 when he opened fire in Freeman High School on Sept. 13, 2017, killing classmate Sam Strahan, injuring three girls and terrorizing dozens of others.

Sharpe was sentenced to spend at least 40 years in prison by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price. The sentence of 40 years to life required Sharpe to go before a sentencing review board prior to his release.

The Court of Appeals Division III ruled that the court must impose a sentence of 25 years to life under state law because Sharpe was under the age of 16 at the time of the shooting.

“The Freeman School District is disappointed in today’s announcement that the WA State Court of Appeals has ordered the re-sentencing of Caleb Sharpe. It’s heartbreaking that the Freeman students, staff, families, and community will be exposed to yet another conversation about the situation,” Superintendent Randy Russell said in an email to the Freeman Community. “We will continue providing support and services to Freeman students, staff, and families as we navigate our continuing road of recovery.”

Sharpe, now 22, pleaded guilty to premeditated first-degree aggravated murder for killing Strahan, along with three counts of premeditated attempted first-degree murder for shooting the three girls, and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

After weeks of victim impact statements, he was sentenced in August 2022.

Sharpe appealed the sentence arguing he could not be sentenced to more than 25 years of minimum prison time.

The appeals court agreed

He also argued that the firearms enhancement of five years of non-concurrent prison time didn’t apply because he was under the age of 16.

The appeals court declined to address that issue but said it could be raised at resentencing.

Sharpe also argued that his confession to police shortly after the shooting should not have been admitted and was coerced. The appeals court ruled that Sharpe waived any challenges to the admissibility of his confession when he pleaded guilty.

The appeals court did say that Sharpe can argue the confession shouldn’t be given much weight at resentencing.

Sharon Hedlund, the deputy prosecutor on the case, said attorneys on both sides were prepared for an appeal and potential resentencing, especially since sentencing guidelines for juveniles are often in flux.

“So this is not a surprise to anyone that was involved in these proceedings,” Hedlund said.

Prosecutors plan to pursue the same sentence but configured differently to meet current law, she said.

Price, the judge, has retired so a new judge will be assigned to the case which could cause delays due to the large volume of background in the case.

A new sentencing date has not been scheduled.

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