NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled a serious youthful offender serving a life sentence can earn good time but only if it is part of sentencing. The ruling is back on the case of Norman Cates who murdered his neighbor back in 2004 when he was 17. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years.

Fourteen years later, Cates filed a petition asking for clarity on whether he could earn good time. A district court judge ruled yes. The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court which has now ruled juveniles convicted of first-degree murder can only earn good time if the sentenced court authorizes it which did not happen in this case.