The Akron teen wore handcuffs and wielded a knife when he knocked on the door of an elderly couple's home on Halloween 18 years ago.
Breland Johnson, 17, attacked the couple, then stole their car and fled.
Robert Richardson, 83, suffered a lacerated liver, while his 72-year-old wife had cuts to her face and neck. Richardson said he thought the fact that Johnson was wearing handcuffs — after escaping from police following a fight at Firestone High School — likely stopped him from killing them.
"What you did was random and cruel," Summit County Judge Patricia Cosgrove told Johnson during his sentencing in May 2003.
Cosgrove sentenced Johnson to 30 years in prison, but he is scheduled to have a parole hearing in March because of Senate Bill 256, a new state law. The law requires parole hearings for those incarcerated as juveniles based on what crimes they were convicted of and how much time they've served.
Johnson is among five people convicted of crimes as juveniles in Summit County who have had or will have parole hearings in the next six months because of the new law.
Other regional individuals include:
Nathan John Brooks of Belmont County was convicted of aggravated murder; parole hearing is scheduled for 2025.
Robert Daniel II of Fairfield County was convicated of aggravated murder; parole hearing is scheduled for 2024.
Bradley Green of Guernsey County was convicted of rape; parole hearing is scheduled for 2024.
Jeremy L. Nelson of Licking County was convicted of aggravated murder; parole hearing is scheduled for 2025
Kwame Dwayne Foggie of Muskingum County was convicted of aggravated robbery; parole hearing is scheduled for 2023.
People convicted as juveniles in many other high-profile cases won’t have parole hearings until they’ve spent more time in prison.
Gavon Ramsay, a Wadsworth teen convicted in the death of his elderly neighbor, is scheduled for his first parole hearing in 2043.
Brogan Rafferty, the teenage accomplice of Richard Beasley, the Craigslist killer, also was sentenced to life in prison but now will have his first parole hearing in 2037. Beasley and Rafferty were convicted of luring three men to their deaths with the promise of work in a bogus Craigslist ad in 2011. Beasley is on Ohio’s death row.
Breland Johnson's case prompted a change in state law that required the Department of Youth Services to provide information to school districts when juveniles are released from youth prison. The Akron school district didn't realize Johnson had just been released from youth prison when he enrolled in the district.
The law also allowed school districts to place juveniles released from prison in alternative programs rather than their home schools.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at email@example.com; 330-996-3705 and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: These prisoners committed serious crimes as kids. A new state law could set them free