Ihab Masalmani and Robert Taylor

Ihab Masalmani, left, and Robert Taylor (Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections)

Michigan Supreme Court To Review Teen Life Terms In ’09 Slaying Of Macomb County Man

April 08, 2019 - 5:10 pm

(WWJ) The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to review the sentences of two men who abducted a Macomb County man from a sandwich shop and killed him, nearly a decade ago. 

Ihab Maslamani was a few days shy of 18 years old and Robert Taylor was 16 in the summer of 2009 when they abducted 21-year-old Matt Landry outside a Quiznos in Eastpointe.

Prosecutors said the Chesterfield Township resident was held for four days before he was shot in the head. His body was later found inside a burned out vacant house in Detroit, and the teens were convicted of first degree murder in his death. 

While both Maslamani and Taylor received automatic life in prison without parole, a 2012 Supreme Court decisions found that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional.

Wayne State Law Professor Peter Henning said a judge must consider many factors in a case like this, including an offender's background and potential for rehabilitation.

A defendant's age at the time of the crime may also be taken into consideration.

"With a 14 or 15 year-old you could well see that that person could change their life, turn their life around once they understand the consequences of their action," Henning told WWJ's Sandra McNeill. "With a 17-year-old, it may be harder for a judge to say that you didn't understand what you were doing or the consequences."

Regardless, Henning said this could be a difficult case from a legal standpoint. 

"One of the issues they have to decide is who bears the burden of proof on this," Henning said. "Does the defendant have to show that he should not have received a life sentence, or does the state have to justify it? And that could be an important point. If the state has to justify the life sentence, it may not be able to." 

Other fators that may be considered, he said: Whether Taylor and Maslamani have been well behaved behind bars, and if they have showed any remorse.