JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Eighteen years ago, Thursday, the lives of two young people and all who knew them changed forever.
That's when 14-year-old Joshua Phillips killed 8-year-old Maddie Clifton. Phillips, now 32, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Back in 1998, Maddie Clifton disappeared, only to be found a week later, stabbed and beaten to death. Clifton was discovered under a bed, inside the home of Phillips.
Harry Shorstein was the state attorney at the time. He'll never forget the highly emotional case.
"It was a relatively simple case as far as trials are concerned, but it's something that will stay with you forever," said Shorstein.
At the time of the trial, life without parole was the only punishment for Phillips' 1st degree murder conviction.
"He seems to be an appropriate candidate for reconsideration of a much lesser sentence," said Shorstein.
Shorstein says a lot has changed since the trial, regarding the understanding of the adolescent brain, like how the mind isn't fully developed until well into someone's twenties.
While the former state attorney says he hasn't seen Phillips' psychiatric reports since entering prison, Shorstein says he's heard Phillips has matured significantly.
"If you look at Josh Phillips today or next year or whenever the issue comes to a decision making point, you're looking at a different person than you did at the time of the murder," said Shorstein.
Shorstein wont have any legal role in Phillips' resentencing, but says he thinks upcoming state attorney Melissa Nelson will make the right decision.
"I think very highly of her. I'm very close to her. If she asks my advice I'd give it to her, but I think she's well capable of making the appropriate decision at the right time," said Shorstein.
Phillips' next resentencing hearing will be in February.
On the anniversary of her daughter's death, Sheila DeLongis says family is holding strong and that Maddie is with them. She hopes Phillips is never able to walk free.