WOODBURY, N.J. (AP) — A southern New Jersey man who was a teenager when he fatally stabbed his young neighbor 25 years ago has lost another bid to have his conviction and life sentence overturned.
A state appellate court this week rejected Kenneth Houseknecht’s claims of ineffective counsel and cruel punishment. It was the fourth time the Deptford resident had sought a new trial in the 1988 slaying of 12-year-old Kim Anderson, who was stabbed 95 times during a robbery at her home.
Houseknecht, who was 14 when the attack occurred, was convicted as an adult on felony murder and other charges in 1991. Gloucester County authorities have said he broke into Anderson’s home and stole $50 to pay for pornographic magazines.
The 40-year-old Houseknecht is eligible for parole in 2018.
In his appeal, Houseknecht claimed he had ineffective counsel at trial and argued that the 30-year period of parole ineligibility included in his sentence represented cruel and unusual punishment for a teenage defendant. But the two-judge appellate panel rejected those arguments in their 14-page decision
He also claimed a judge should have considered expert testimony on adolescent brain development before ruling against his bid for post-conviction relief in November 2010. But the appellate court found that even if the brain-development expert’s testimony was correct, it was “inconsequential” in the court’s determination.
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