Lawyers for an aspiring rap album producer sentenced to 55 years under federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws have filed court papers seeking to have his prison term vacated.
Weldon Angelos, 29, was convicted of selling marijuana and sentenced to serve 55 years and a day in federal prison under harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
"As a result of three sales of small amounts of marijuana to a paid informant and the suspect charging decisions of federal prosecutors, Angelos is now serving an extreme federal prison term that the sentencing court itself described as 'unjust, cruel, and irrational,'" Angelos' attorney Troy Booher wrote in a motion filed in federal court on Monday.
The attorneys argue that Angelos' sentence is unconstitutional in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gun possession for self defense.
Angelos was convicted of selling small quantities of marijuana in three transactions taped by law enforcement back in 2002. A gun charge was added on to the indictment, resulting in a harsher sentence. His 55-year sentence was controversial in part because of the crime and the judge who sentenced him protested the federal laws that required him to hand down such an extremely harsh sentence.
Others, including former U.S. attorneys general, a former FBI director, former federal prosecutors and judges have also been critical of the sentencing.
Angelos' attorneys wrote that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on gun possession for self-defense shows that the Salt Lake City album producer's sentence "violates 'the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.'"Angelos is serving time in a federal prison in California and is not scheduled to be released until 2058.