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In 2007, Guadalupe Solis Diaz fired into a crowd of six individuals during a drive-by shooting when he was just sixteen years old. No one was injured in the shooting, but Solis Diaz was auto-declined to adult court and charged with six counts of first degree assault, plus drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm. Not understanding the gravity of the charges against him, Solis Diaz turned down a plea deal, went to trial, and was found guilty on all charges. He was sentenced to the top end of the sentence range for each charge, with 5-year mandatory minimum firearm enhancements added to most of the counts, and with all the sentences ordered to be run consecutively. This resulted in a sentence of 1,111 months, or 92.58 years in prison. His sentence was upheld on appeal and this personal restraint petition (PRP) followed.
Solis Diaz’s PRP argues that his extensive term-of-years sentence is the functional equivalent of a juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentence, and is therefore unconstitutional under the U.S. and Washington State Constitutions. Solis Diaz asserts that his sentence violates the recent U.S. Supreme Court holding in Graham v. Florida that juveniles may not be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide crimes without the opportunity to demonstrate maturity and rehabilitation. Alternatively, Solis Diaz argues that juvenile term-of-years sentences that amount to JLWOP contravenes the Washington State Constitution’s prohibition on cruel punishment, which is more protective than the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.