Cedar Rapids man's sentence in robbery-murder upheld

Taylor one of three people convicted in 2010 murder of Kevin Bell

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It wasn’t cruel and unusual punishment to sentence an 18-year-old to 17 years in prison for his role in a robbery that led to the murder of a Cedar Rapids man, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Before he becomes eligible for parole, Gabriel Taylor must serve more than 17 years of his 25-year prison sentence for first-degree robbery. That mandatory minimum, the court found, isn’t grossly disproportionate to his crime, as had been argued in the appeal.

Taylor was one of three Cedar Rapids residents convicted in connection with the death of 26-year-old Kevin Bell in January 2010. He and Johven Lee, 21, were originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery instead. The two then testified that they’d gone with Denum Null, 18, to rob Bell, but that Null was the one who brought the gun and shot Bell in the head.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a mandatory life sentence without parole for minors violates the cruel and unusual punishment provision in the Eighth Amendment. However, Iowa’s appeals court found, that decision does not extend to the mandatory minimum of 17 years in this case.

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