NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday morning, Travion Blount’s family picked him up from prison.
“As soon as I seen his big smile coming down in the truck. I started to cry,” said his big sister, Tyesha Blount.
“It felt so good to hug him, touch him,” said his mom, Angela Blount. “It felt so good because he’s been in a long time.”
The emotional reunion was never supposed to happen.
Blount was given six life sentences plus 118 years for an armed robbery he was involved in when he was 15 years old. He was initially offered a plea deal of 14 years for holding up a Norfolk house party in 2006.
He only took $65, two cell phones and three marijuana joints. Blount decided on a jury trial instead.
The jury found him guilty, and a judge handed down the extensive sentence.
“It was cruel and unusual punishment. It was unconstitutional,” said Blount’s lawyer John Coggeshall. “Why that six consecutive life terms was put on Travion — I think you probably need to ask the judge who did it, who’s no longer on the bench.”
Two 18 year olds were also involved in the robbery. They both took the plea deal and were sentenced to 10 to 13 years.
Blount says he wasn’t guilty of all the charges brought against him and wasn’t going to plead guilty to things he didn’t do.
As he was leaving office in 2018, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave Blount a partial pardon, reducing the sentence to the original 14-year plea deal. Blount finished the time and was released to his family Thursday.
Blount’s lawyer says their fight helped shape changes to the juvenile justice system.
Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill giving juveniles sentenced to life a parole hearing after 20 years.
With his own legal battle behind him, Blount can now enjoy those little things in life he missed most while incarcerated — like watching Dallas Cowboys football games with his family. And his mom’s cooking. He’s specifically requested meatloaf.
Most importantly, Blount said he can now be the type of dad to his two 12-year-old daughters that he always wanted to be. He’s been in prison their entire lives.
“Someone they can count on,” Blount said. “Hopefully they can forgive, which I think they already have.”
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