ND Supreme Court Justices hear arguments on sentence reduction for Michael Neugebauer

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 5:23 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - North Dakota Supreme Court Justices heard oral arguments last week about whether a sentence reduction statute applies to Michael Neugebauer.

Neugebauer was 15 years old in 1992 when he shot and killed his family at a farm near Menoken before fleeing the state. He later said he had been severely abused by his father and sister. He was convicted as an adult and sentenced to life in prison. Whether his sentence was to include a chance at parole was up for debate years ago, and ultimately most agreed his sentence carries the opportunity for parole.

Now, attorneys argue over whether a law enacted in 2017 would apply to Neugebauer’s case. That statute (N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-13.1) allows sentences to be reduced for juveniles sentenced as adults.

Appellant attorney Steven Balaban argued to Justices Thursday that a district court judge was wrong to disallow the statute from being applied retroactively. He said Neugebauer should be allowed to apply for sentence reduction. He said if the statute is never to apply after the fact, there’s no practical effect of the law.

Appellee attorney David Rappenecker argued the district court was correct and the 2017 law can’t constitutionally be applied to this case. He said Neugebauer already has a remedy for sentencing concerns with the possibility of parole.

Justices are considering the arguments and have not yet made a decision.

Previous Coverage from June 2022: Judge denies sentence reduction for Michael Neugebauer