Man sentenced to life in prison at 13 receives new sentence

TACOMA, Wash. -- A 40-year-old Tacoma man who received life without parole for a vicious murder he committed when he was 13-years old may soon walk free.

Barry Massey was just 13 when he and another child robbed and murdered a store employee named Paul Wang.

In January of 1987, Massey and his co-defendant, Michael Harris, spent two days staking out a Steilacoom Marina store. On January 10, the pair entered the store and Massey shot Wang in the chest and head, according to prosecutors.

Massey and Harris then raided the store and left. When they returned to the store a short time later to steal more items, Massey noticed that Wang was still alive and stabbed him seven times. Prosecutors say the knife was still in Wang's neck when police arrived at the scene.

Both Massey and Harris, then 15-years old, were arrested within 30 minutes of the murder. They soon gave full confessions, telling detectives they got rid of the masks they brought to the store because they were "just going to shoot the dude," according to prosecutors.

Massey was originally sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, but a 2012 United State Supreme Court decision held that mandatory life sentences for juveniles was considered "cruel and unusual punishment" and unconstitutional.

In response to the ruling, the Washington State Legislature created a law which requires defendants under 16-years-old to be considered for parole after serving 25 years.

On Friday, Massey was given a new sentence of 25 years.

"This new sentence is required by the new law," Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in Friday news release.

In late 2010, Massey petitioned the state Pardons and Clemency Board to be released. At that time, the board recommended that then-Governor Chris commute Massey's sentence, but she declined.

During that board hearing, Massey spoke to the Wang family via telephone from Walla Walla State Penitentiary.

"It's just so important to me now that I have the opportunity to speak to you again, that I tell you that I feel so horrible for what I put you through, for what I've done. And I am so sorry and I just want you to know that," he said.

The decision of whether or not to release Massey will be made by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board. The members are appointed by the Governor.

Massey's attorney says that process could take a minimum of 6 months and more likely a year or two. Massey could be released or he could still be held the rest of his life.

Massey is among the first in the state to be re-sentenced under this new law which just took effect June 1.