GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man convicted in the brutal murders of his mother and two young sisters when he was 17 could get out of prison in as early as 20 years.

Jon Siesling was 17 when he murdered his family members.

But two Supreme Court decisions, one in 2011 by the U.S. Supreme Court and one in 2022 by the Michigan Supreme Court, would lead to a ruling that sending someone age 18 or under to prison for life is unconstitutional.

“Imagine your son beating you with a bat … breaking all of your fingers while you’re trying to defend yourself,” said Laura DeGraaf, Sharon Siesling’s best friend and Godmother to Lea Siesling, as she relived the nightmare from that cold night in January of 2003, thanks to a 2022 Michigan Supreme Court decision.

DeGraaf delivered an emotional victim impact statement during Jon Siesling’s resentencing hearing in a Kent County Circuit Courtroom Thursday, nearly 20 years after he was convicted in the murders of his mother and sisters.

“Our hearts are ripped open in pain. It’s unbearable. It’s unbearable. It’s like rubbing salt in an enormous wound.” DeGraaf told the court.

Thursday marked the third time in 20 years Jon Siesling was sentenced for the brutal murder of his mother and sisters. 

His first was in 2004, after a jury convicted him for beating his mother Sharon and 15-year-old sister Caitlin with a baseball bat, then stabbing them to death and slashing his 6-year-old sister Lea’s throat.  

“Since my incarceration, I’ve grown. I do my best to make myself a better man,” Siesling told the court.

His claims of being a changed man is an example of what brought him back to court.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for those who are 17 and younger are cruel and unusual punishment, based on studies that show that a teen’s brain hasn’t fully developed, limiting their ability to decide between right and wrong. 

The high court ruling gave judges some discretion when it came to resentencing convicts like Siesling, who was resentenced to the same life term in 2021.

But a 2022 Michigan Supreme Court decision took away that judicial discretion, when justices ruled life sentences for anyone under 18 unconstitutional.

Siesling and other young lifers now have yet another chance at eventually getting out of prison.

“I am a circuit court judge. I am not the legislature; I am not the Appellate Courts. I am not the Supreme Court. I have to follow the law,” said Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Truscott,  who resentenced Siesling to the maximum 40 to 60 years in prison.

With the 20 years he’s already served, Siesling could get out as early as 2043.

Judge Trusock also chastised the higher courts at the sentencing.

“They do not take into effect at all, in any of those cases, the impact that these types of murders have on the victims, on the victim’s family members, on the victim’s friends, on the community,” said Trusock.

“Every time they reorder a sentencing, the family members have to relive the most horrific day in their life. This was 20 years ago and these folks are being exposed to this again,” he said.

This will not be the last time a young lifer will were appear in a Kent County Courtroom.

Federico Kiko Cruz, who was 16 when he was convicted in the murder and dismemberment of  year old David Crawford, a 17 year old, will be back in court later this month as part of the resentencing process.