Texas H.B. No. 686

Re: Opposing Texas H.B. No. 686 (Moody) – Relating to the release of certain inmates convicted of an offense committed when they were younger than 18 years of age; changing parole eligibility

H.B. 686 proposes to change parole eligibility for inmates who committed an offense when they were younger than 18 years old. As the parents of a murdered son, and whose murder involved a juvenile, we strongly oppose this bill. We are worried that once juveniles are given sentences that are proportionate to the extremely violent crimes they committed, including murder, aggravated robbery/assault, and rape, this new legislation will be used to drastically shorten these sentences.

On June 24, 2020, our 26-year-old son Christopher was robbed, brutally assaulted, and murdered by five individuals in Travis County, TX. One of the five was 16 years old at the time, and was charged with aggravated robbery. The juvenile went on to commit armed robberies in Williamson County, TX after our son’s murder and was charged there as well. We believe that our son was their first victim in June 2020. The juvenile was one of the more sadistic ones, continuing to assault our son after he was beaten unconscious during the robbery, breaking his face and bones. Our son was then held for hours before he was shot to death. Since none of the five were talking, we had to search for 37 days until we found Christopher’s body in a cornfield in Manor, Texas. Our son had to have a closed casket; they even took away any opportunity for us to have a final goodbye. 
Once violent juvenile offenders are certified to stand trial as adults, are sent to prison, and are given a lengthy sentence, HB 686 could make them eligible for release on parole much earlier than under current law, which demeans the severity of their crimes, and devalues victims. 
However, our main concern is the devastating effect this legislation will have on victims and victims’ families. These juveniles caused irreversible damage, and parole hearings will trap victims in a never-ending cycle of trauma. Multiple generations of the victim’s family would need to relive their nightmare every two years. Victims need and deserve finality, not revictimization. We feel that when a 16-year old is convicted of murder in an adult court, and is sentenced to life in prison, it would be highly inappropriate for them to potentially be released at the age of 36, especially since some victims didn’t even get to live past the age of 2, as in the case listed below. There is no second chance or do-over for victims of violent crimes.

Below is an example of a Texas case listed on https://teenkillers.org website by NOVJM (National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers).Jose “Lalo” Eduardo Arredondo (16) Victim: Katherine Cardenas, age: Crime: Kidnapping, abduction, rape, child cruelty, & murder, Laredo, TX Sep 5, 2009Arredondo became enraged at Katherine’s mother Norma after she turned down his advances for sex. He then kidnapped two-year-old Katherine in the early morning hours of September 5, 2009. Arredondo raped the toddler and murdered her by beating and strangling her. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.(Source: National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers, Welcome to the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers NOVJM)
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