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ND Supreme Court to consider reducing life sentence for convicted killer of West Fargo woman

Steven Mottinger represents Barry Garcia during his sentencing hearing July 2, 1996, for the murder of Cherryl Tendeland. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

FARGO — The North Dakota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday, March 26, as part of an appeal brought by Barry Garcia, who is seeking a reduction in his life sentence for the 1995 killing of Cherryl Tendeland of West Fargo.

Garcia was sentenced in 1996 in Cass County District Court to life in prison without parole for shooting Tendeland while she sat in a parked car.

Garcia was 16 at the time of the crime.

Over time, Garcia has appealed his life sentence on several fronts.

In one action, Garcia's attorneys cited a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found mandatory sentences of life without parole for child criminals are unconstitutional and that the ruling could apply retroactively to cases.

Garcia's lawyers maintained the U.S. Supreme Court opinion should apply in Garcia's case, even though his sentence was discretionary and not mandatory.

In that appeal, a Cass County District Court judge ruled in 2017 that Garcia's sentence should stand.

The ruling was appealed to the North Dakota State Supreme Court, which upheld the district court ruling.