Meanwhile, more than 60 other teens charged with murder since 1996 have escaped the maximum sentence, court records show, often pleading guilty to a lesser crime such as second degree murder, making them eligible for parole. Yet, many of these youths committed shocking, grisly crimes; one was convicted of beating a two-year-old to death. A review of these cases found no obvious pattern to explain why some killers got life without parole and others won lesser sentences. What is clear, however, is that the law has not been applied consistently to the most grievous of juvenile murder cases. Juveniles whose crimes approach the cruelty of O’Brien’s have escaped the harsh sentence, while spontaneous acts of violence by teenagers with little prior record are punished with life behind bars.