BALTIMORE - A European court recently ruled that a potential sentence of life without parole for a Maryland man accused of premeditated murder would not violate the region's human rights convention.
The European Court of Human Rights ruling last month in the case of Joshua Edwards, who is accused of killing a man in 2006 in Washington County. He is being sought for extradition from England to the U.S. The court, based in France, decided that a potential sentence of life imprisonment would not be "grossly disproportionate" in the event Edwards were to be convicted of premeditated murder.
Edwards is accused of fatally shooting Jackson Rodriguez. He was arrested in England in 2007 and the Washington County state's attorney's office then requested his extradition.
Washington County's Deputy State's Attorney Joseph S. Michael disclosed the European ruling. He said Monday that his office is now awaiting subsequent developments in Europe.
"From our perspective, our office is a very small link in this chain," he said. "Our role is purely reactive; we will act if he ever comes back."
According to the European convention and Maryland court documents, Edwards is accused of fatally shooting Rodriguez in the head on July 23, 2006. The documents state Edwards allegedly became angered that Rodriguez and two other men were making fun of his appearance. According to court documents, Edwards left and returned with three other men. Rodriguez was fatally shot; another man survived a gunshot wound to the head.
In fighting extradition, Edwards initially argued that he could face the death penalty, but the U.S. government said he would not be subject to execution if convicted, according to authorities.
Edwards then argued that if convicted of murder, he could face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Edwards claimed that such a sentence would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, in violation of Article 3 of the European Human Rights Convention, officials said.
Last month, the Court rejected Edwards' complaint. However, the court ruled that the British government could not extradite Edwards pending a potential request for a referral to the court's Grand Chamber.
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