Resentencing sets new precedent for nearly 40-year-old murder case
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Nearly four decades later, the Alaska Court of Appeals has paved the way for Alaska’s youngest female convicted murderer to be resentenced — and her case helps set precedent.
Winona Fletcher was barely 15 years old when she pulled the trigger in an armed robbery turned triple murder in 1985.
Fletcher was with her 19-year-old boyfriend Cordell Boyd when the couple shot and killed Tom Faccio, 69, Ann Faccio, 70, and Ann’s 75-year-old sister Emilia Elliot.
“I knew them very well,” Tamera Lienhart said of her grandparents the Faccios, and Elliot, her aunt. “We just lived a couple blocks away. We spent a lot of time together. I would probably say I was closer to them than maybe my parents, just because we just had a great special relationship. My aunt had lived with them for many years, so she was just part of the package.”
Lienhart said the house in which they were killed was not on the main road. She said she’s been told Fletcher and Boyd went to the front door.
“(They) said their car had broken down and they didn’t have a phone,” Lienhart said. “Cell phones weren’t as prevalent back then. And so, they let them in under false pretense to use their phone before the nightmare started.”
Fletcher was sentenced to 135 years to serve, according to court documents.
Multiple factors led to the decision on Fletcher’s court outcome. Whitney Glover, an attorney who previously represented Fletcher, said the teenage Fletcher was a runaway.
“She had suffered a lot of abuse,” Glover said. “She had a very unsettled home life, and she was living on the streets.”
Fletcher was tried as an adult because the court found she wouldn’t be amenable to treatment by the age of 20, according to court documents.
New studies on juvenile brain development, however, challenged that perspective.
“The Supreme Court said they lack culpability and shouldn’t be punished like an adult because their ability to make decisions, their ability to appreciate risk, their ability to understand the consequences of their actions, or to relate to the consequences of the actions of other people is very diminished by their brain development,” Glover said.
Fletcher tried twice to get her sentence looked at again.
Fletcher’s path has now been paved towards resentencing, but Glover said there are still procedural hurdles before that can happen.
“I think that if Winona Fletcher gets an opportunity to get in front of the court to be resentenced, she’s going to be able to show the court that she is rehabilitated. She’s an amazing person. She has incredible resilience, and she has done everything she can to benefit herself and others and she’s been in custody,” Glover said of the woman who is now in her 50s.
But Lienhart disagrees.
“I feel like if someone truly was rehabilitated, and someone truly was trying to change their life, they would have reached out,” Lienhart said.
Glover said the court documents show there is one other person in Alaska who may be in a similar situation to Fletcher’s. She said there may be others, but not many.
Lienhart thinks the precedent this sets isn’t right.
“We have a legal process that is there for a reason,” Glover said. “They take the evidence, they take the case, they take the situation, and they make the decisions.”
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