GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A man who was a teenager when he killed and beheaded another Grand Rapids-area teen in 1996 was given a shorter prison sentence Thursday and an opportunity for release.
Federico Cruz, now 44, has been in prison for 27 years as part of a life sentence. He’ll now be eligible for parole after serving 35 years.
Cruz’s case was reopened after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that minors can’t automatically be sentenced to life.
Cruz was 16 at the time of 17-year-old David Crawford’s death, near Sparta. Kent County Judge Mark Trusock said Cruz was mentally ill at the time and has worked to improve himself while in prison.
Cruz has apologized for Crawford’s death. He said he was abused as a child and believed at the time that he could communicate with demons.
“I feel it is a great risk for this community for you to walk free,” Crawford’s sister, Kathryn Crawford, said in court. “I will never forgive you for what you took away from our family.”