When he was 17, Shawn M. Commire was sentenced to die in prison for savagely killing a retired 83-year-old nurse with his older cousin. Sixteen years on — the age he was when he killed Rita M. Salogar — Commire has received a new sentence, one that may see him paroled in a few decades.

Entering his courtroom to resentence Commire on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 20, Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran set a framed photo of Salogar before his bench. From her studio portrait, Salogar stared across the courtroom, nearly filled with her loved ones.

As a deluge of Salogar’s family shared their disapproval of the new sentence, Commire reiterated his own contempt for the proceeding, bristling when the judge asked him standard yes-or-no questions.

“Your Honor, I’d like to plead the Fifth,” Commire said. “I’d just like to get this over. I don’t want to make this a spectacle. I don’t want to talk to anybody.”

Commire, now 32, was originally sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Salogar, 83, inside her home at 402 N. Catherine St. In the early morning of June 5, 2007, as Salogar slept in her upstairs bedroom, Commire and his 19-year-old cousin Robert M. “Bobby” Commire donned latex gloves and ransacked her house.

When Salogar awoke, the Commires beat her with hammers and stabbed her 42 times, delivering fatal wounds. Before dying, Salogar managed to call 911 and scream for help, causing police to respond and catch the cousins in her garage.

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Dr. Daniel Keating, a professor of psychology, psychiatry, and pediatrics at the University of Michigan and an expert in adolescent brain development, described the adolescent brain as “all accelerator, no brakes,” adding adolescence ranges from ages 10 to 25. Thus, he opined Shawn Commire’s brain had eight to 10 years of development to undergo when he killed Salogar.

Keating described adolescents as more focused on benefits than risks. An adolescent is more prone than an adult to engage in risky behavior, even more so when in the presence of a peer, Keating said. Goading from a peer may also increase a youth’s likelihood to go along with an impulsive act, he said. Similarly, an adolescent is less likely to halt risky behavior once begun, he added.

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