Wagswoofs – A divided North Carolina appeals court panel has upheld the life sentences without parole for a young man who killed his parents. The court stated that a trial judge conducted a thorough review of potential mitigating factors before imposing the sentences.
The state Court of Appeals has upheld the sentencing of Tristan Noah Borlase in a 2-1 decision. Back in 2022, a jury convicted Borlase on two counts of first-degree murder. Authorities state that Borlase, just one month away from turning 18, carried out the attack against Tanya Maye Borlase and Jeffrey David Borlase in April 2019.
Although Borlase faced trial in adult court, his age at the time of the crime limited the maximum punishment he could receive to life without parole. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has emphasized the need for procedures that consider mitigating factors before imposing a sentence of life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders.
North Carolina law has implemented a process that allows defendants to present evidence regarding various factors related to their youth, such as immaturity, familial pressures, and the potential benefits of rehabilitation while incarcerated.
Borlase’s lawyer contended that the issuance of two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole by Superior Court Judge R. Gregory Horne violated her client’s right against cruel and unusual punishment. She argued that Horne erred in concluding that Borlase’s crimes showcased irreparable corruption and permanent incorrigibility, considering the available evidence.
In his written opinion, Judge Chris Dillon of the Court of Appeals stated that Horne, in his role as a decision-maker, exercised his discretion to determine an appropriate punishment. Dillon emphasized that Horne’s decision was not arbitrary and was supported by substantial evidence.
In the majority opinion, the judge who sentenced Borlase highlighted his cunning calculations during the crimes, his absence of genuine remorse, and his manipulative behaviors throughout and after the crimes. According to Dillon’s account, Court of Appeals Judge Fred Gore also agreed with the verdict, affirming that Borlase had indeed received a fair trial.
Judge John Arrowood, in his dissenting opinion, expressed his stance on the matter by stating that he would have mandated a fresh sentencing hearing. One of the reasons behind his decision was the refusal of Horne to acknowledge pertinent evidence regarding family pressures, immaturity, and age.
According to Borlase’s lawyer, his client’s troubled relationship with his mother, disagreements over her religious beliefs, inadequate living conditions, and his struggles with depression and anxiety were factors that were not adequately taken into account.
The state Supreme Court can be appealed to in order to address cases with split decisions. Previously, a law mandated the justices to hear such cases upon request from a legal party, but this requirement was repealed in October.