Texas is moving closer to enacting a new punishment for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder to include the possibility for parole after 40 years.
Texas law currently requires a mandatory life sentence without parole for those offenders. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such sentences are cruel and unusual punishment for minors and unconstitutional.
The Texas Senate voted Friday to make the change, sending the bill to the House.
Sen. Joan Huffman of Houston says there are more than 25 people in Texas prisons whom courts sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed as juveniles.
Once signed by Gov. Rick Perry, prosecutors have said they will ask the governor to reduce the mandatory life sentences already passed on juveniles to allow for parole.
A grand jury indicted Jake Evans, 17, on capital murder charges in the October shooting deaths of his mother, Jami, and 15-year-old sister, Mallory. Capital murder is punishable by death or life in prison without parole.
In a 911 call after the killings, Evans confessed to killing his mother and sister in their Aledo home.
"It just kind of happened," he told the dispatcher. "I've been uh, planning on killing for a while now."
Earlier this year, authorities released a four-page written confession Evans gave to police hours after his arrest. In the confession, the teenager said the remake of a classic horror movie gave him the idea to kill his mother and sister.
Prosecutors say that if the Legislature doesn't act, they may have to try Evans on the capital murder charges and wait to sentence him until action can be taken by the legislature.