Court denies new sentence for inmate who killed parents at 17

Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A prison inmate who was 17 tears old when he tortured and killed his adoptive parents will not get the new sentence he wanted.

Michael L. Bourgeois, now 33, is serving 80 years to life for the 2001 murders of Lucy and Terry Smith in their Ephrata home.

Bourgeois was originally sentenced to consecutive life terms. He was re-sentenced in 2017 after a U.S. Supreme Court decision deemed life sentences against juveniles unconstitutional. 

Bourgeois argued that the new prison term is a de facto life without parole sentence because he will not be eligible for parole until he is 97 years old. He said the trial court failed to fully appreciate his “distinctive youthful attributes and model prisoner status,” and instead focused on the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime.

Superior Court found the sentence appropriate, stating that the trial court did consider Bourgeois’s behavior while incarcerated, as well as his age and the circumstances of his childhood and family life.

Prosecutors said Bourgeois and a co-defendant, Landon May, bound and beat the Smiths for hours before killing them.

Autopsies found Terry Smith was stabbed 47 times, his neck was cut at least five times, he was shot “execution-style” five times, and he was strangled or asphyxiated. Lucy Smith was cut 51 times, shot in the head, beaten on the left side of her head with a claw hammer, suffered blunt force trauma to her forehead, had 17 fractures to her skull, and was eventually smothered to death.

Lucy Smith was a principal at Elizabeth Martin Elementary in the School District of Lancaster.

In a 2002 interview with prosecutors, Bourgeois said he killed his parents because he “wanted to get rid of them.”

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