SPENCER, Iowa (KTIV) - A Clay County, Iowa man convicted of first degree murder and kidnapping has been given a chance to get out of prison.
In 1997, Ryan Wedebrand and the other members of the self-titled "Loz Krazy Boys" gang were found guilty of kidnapping, torturing, and killing 15-year-old Gregory "Sky" Erickson, over an alleged drug theft.
Sky's beaten and burned body was found in an abandoned farmhouse in Jackson County, Minnesota.
"There is no closure. Sky is just as dead today as he is tomorrow, as he is the next day. There's no closure," Gregory Erickson, Sky's father said.
Ryan Wedebrand was sentenced to life in prison.
But in 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that people sentenced to life without parole in prison as a minor, could request a resentencing.
Ryan Wedebrand did just that.
"To know that he's going to have the opportunity to get out and help other people is tremendous," Bryan Wedebrand, Ryan's twin brother said.
The Clay County Judge ruled Friday that Wedebrand still deserves a life sentence for both his first degree kidnapping and murder charges, but he'll now be eligible for parole. His brother says it's a break he deserves.
"Everybody has noticed how much of a change he's had. I mean, it's been almost 18 years. And to see that they can notice that in him, it means he's doing good things," Bryan Wedebrand said.
The judge said he considered Ryan Wedebrand's rehabilitation in prison, as well as his unstable home life and immaturity at the time of the crime.
"You'd smoked marijuana, you'd gotten suspended from school, you were smoking cigarettes, you'd gotten fired from your part-time job, and basically were doing what an irresponsible 16-year-old kid would do," Hon. David Lester, Clay County Judge said.
Sky Erickson's father said he was surprised the judge was as firm on Ryan Wedebrand's resentencing as he was, but said the ongoing legal process that's a result of the US Supreme Court ruling means his battles in court are never really over.
"I feel that this whole legal process has become my life. I can't leave for three months and not have something pop up. It just keeps on going, on and on," Erickson said.
And Erickson says, as all of the other ex-Loz Krazy Boys members are granted the chance to appeal their sentences, he'll be at every court proceeding, and now parole hearings, on Sky's behalf.
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