WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether young murderers who are serving life terms in prison deserve a chance to seek their freedom in parole hearings.

The court said it will rule in the case of Louisiana man who was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for shooting his best friend during a botched robbery in 1984 when the convict was 17.

George Toca, the Louisiana inmate, should not “die in prison” without ever having had a chance to show he has been rehabilitated, his lawyer said in her appeal to the high court.

A ruling in his case could affect hundreds across the country. Two years ago, the justices said in a 5-4 decision that it would be cruel and unusual punishment to impose a mandatory life term with no parole on young murderers. Writing in Miller v. Alabama, Justice Elena Kagan said the law had long assumed that young offenders were not as culpable as adults who commit the same crimes. Yet many states sent these young criminals to prison for life without giving them a chance to seek a lesser punishment, she said.

But Kagan and the justices in the majority did not say whether the ruling should be applied retroactively to more than 2,000 state prisoners serving life terms for homicides they committed when they were younger than 18.