News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2007
Contact: Alicia Phillips
(512) 463-0103

Rep. Otto and Sen. Nichols File Legislation to Increase Penalties for Tampering with Evidence Involving Human Remains

AUSTIN -- State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) today filed SB 1393 the companion bill to Rep. Otto's HB 872, which imposes harsher penalties for tampering with evidence when the evidence is a human body. The bill would make the current third degree felony a second degree felony.

"We need to give prosecutors the proper tools to better pursue justice for murder victims," said Otto. "I don't want to hear about another case of a murderer escaping with a slap on the wrist because the victim's body was so badly compromised."

William Lee Hon, a district attorney from both Otto and Nichols' districts, pushed for the legislation after trying an especially heinous case where a four-year-old boy was killed and buried in his backyard. Because of the state of the victim's body, it was impossible to convict either of the two possible suspects of the murder, though it was clear both had tampered with the body. Both suspects received only a ten-year sentence.

"I'm gladly working with Rep. Otto to create stricter penalties for tampering with evidence," said Nichols. "A ten-year maximum sentence is simply not long enough for some who has committed or helped cover up a murder by using gruesome means to tamper with the evidence. I appreciate District Attorney Hon bringing this to our attention."

The maximum penalty for a third degree felony is 10 years imprisonment and a fee not to exceed $10,000. The maximum penalty for a second degree felony is 20 years imprisonment and a fee not to exceed $10,000.

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