Michigan's oldest juvenile lifer, 74, to be released

In an undated file photo provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections, Sheldry Topp is shown. A judge has cleared the way for the release of the 74-year-old man who is the oldest Michigan prisoner serving a life sentence for murder as a teen. Topp has been in prison since 1962. But he was resentenced Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 to a minimum of 40 years. Attorney Deborah LaBelle says the new sentence means Topp should immediately be eligible for freedom. (Michigan Department of Corrections via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has cleared the way for the release of a 74-year-old man who is the oldest and longest-serving Michigan prisoner with a life sentence for murder as a teen.
Sheldry Topp, who has been in prison since 1962, was resentenced Tuesday to 40 years to 60 years. He probably will be freed today because he has accumulated plenty of good-behavior credits, said Chris Gautz of the Corrections Department.
“He’s in a wheelchair. His health is not good, but he’s hung in there,” attorney Deborah LaBelle told The Associated Press. “I feared he might die before seeing the night sky” as a free man.
Topp was convicted of fatally stabbing an Oakland County man during a home break-in in 1962. He was 17 when Charles Davis died.
Michigan and other states were forced to change the way they sentence teens after the U.S. Supreme Court said minors can’t automatically be given no-parole prison terms. No-parole sentences still are possible in some cases, and prosecutor Jessica Cooper sought one again for Topp.