Northwest Iowa man convicted of murder as a teen appeals for a l - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Northwest Iowa man convicted of murder as a teen appeals for a lesser sentence

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CLAY COUNTY, Iowa (KTIV) - Ryan Wedebrand was 17-years-old when he was sentenced to life in prison, after he and eight other members of the Loz Krazy Boys gang participated in kidnapping, torturing, and shooting 15-year-old Gregory "Sky" Erickson of Estherville, Iowa.

But, a 2012 US Supreme Court Ruling allows those sentenced to life in prison as minors to request a resentencing, meaning they can try to get parole. "The only thing that I know for sure is that none of the Supreme Court Justices ruling in this matter ever suffered the loss of a child due to a murdering juvenile defendant," Greg Erickson, Sky's father said.

Wedebrand appeared before a judge Monday morning to request a lesser sentence and a shot at parole. But Sky's mother says Wedebrand's actions don't deserve anything less than life in prison. "Your honor, I'm asking you on behalf of Sky to sentence Ryan Wedebrand to life without the possibility of parole. And, I'm asking on behalf of myself, so that I may stop focusing on the death of my son, and may try to focus on his life," Joni Ketter, Sky's mother said.

His attorney, Michael Jacobsma, called Ryan Wedebrand's twin brother to the stand, as well as the man who was Ryan's spiritual counsel in prison. They said Ryan is a completely different man who deserved a shot at a normal life. "I've seen the way he's grown in prison. He's done a lot of good things. He's been reborn," Bryan Wedebrand said. "There's not a doubt in my mind that Ryan could be to the level of spiritual growth that he is, and not have remorse for his actions," Steven Strang, spiritual counselor said.

And Ryan agreed, saying he's found his passion. "I have a calling, and I have a job to do as a Catholic and a Christian, to show people about God. And for the last seven years, that's what I've dedicated my life to doing," Ryan Wedebrand said.

Wedebrand said that his new found faith has made him a better man, and he'd like a second chance at life so he can help others find faith and do the same. "I hurt not just Sky's family, not just my family, but many, many people, and I know that. But if there's ever a moment that I can give back to anybody, that is what I want to do now," Wedebrand said.

But, both of Sky Erickson's parents said they didn't think it was fair that Wedebrand should get a second chance, when Sky was never given that opportunity. "There is barely a day that goes by that I do not think about what happened to my oldest son. The threats, the beatings, the kidnapping, the murder; no parent should have to live with those images in their mind," Ketter said.

Whether or not a second chance will be granted to Ryan Wedebrand by parole is all in the hands of the judge now.

His decision on Ryan Wedebrand's sentence will be announced at a hearing on May 16th.

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