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 http://www.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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Justice for Beth Brodie

Please help Beth’s family keep her murderer in prison.

http://justiceforbethbrodie.weebly.com/

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JLWOP apponent charged with corruption.

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Illinois Supreme Court decides that Miller V. Alamaba is retroactive.

For Immediate Release March 20, 2014
Contact: Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, 312-882-4584; Dora Larson 815-514-4933
Murder Victims’ Families of Teen Killers
Sentenced to Life in Prison in Illinois
React to Illinois Supreme Court Ruling
(Chicago)- Today the Illinois Supreme Court issued its ruling in a case that has been watched closely by the handful of affected murder victims’ families made aware of the importance of the case to their lives. Long-suffering families are deeply hurt and horrified that the Illinois Supreme Court has not protected the legal finality of our loved ones’ murder cases. Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, whose sister, brother-in-law, and their unborn child were murdered by a juvenile offender who received both mandatory and discretionary life sentences for the triple murder, said, “This ruling today means no hope for peace and quiet for my family and especially my widowed Mother who has been emotionally devastated by the re-emergence of the killer into our lives recently. We can only look forward now to many sleepless nights.”
The United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 in Miller v Alabama that life sentences for teen killers can no longer be mandatory. They did not state that this ruling should be applied retroactively. Even so, many of the 1300 teen killers sentenced to life nationally filed challenges attempting to re-open their sentences. In Illinois that issue is now decided in the Cook County case of offender Addolfo Davis. Legal experts citing long-standing precedent in the “Teague Rule” say that the Supreme Court ruling is not retroactive. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies legally to cases still open under direct appeal and future cases. In the entire history of U.S. Supreme Court on such criminal justice matters only ONE case has ever been held to be retroactive – the famed Gideon v Wainwright case that gave defendants the right to an attorney.
Currently there are approximately 100 cases of “juvenile lifers” in Illinois that committed highly aggravated murders. Well-funded offender advocates have been providing legal representation for these killers to attempt to re-open these finalized cases retroactively. They have also been pushing legislation in Springfield that would not only re-open these 100 cases, but would extend the notion to ALL extremely violent offenders who before they were 18 committed horrific felonies that earned them long term adult sentences. When our victim organization asked about the cost to Illinois residents in taxes to pay for all these re-opening of long settled cases, and also the risk to public safety and the re-traumatization to victims families, their spokesperson Jobi Cates of Human Rights Watch told us, “we believe the system can absorb the cost.” NOVJL Illinois leader Dora Larson, whose 10 year old daughter Vicki was raped and murdered by a 15 year old “juvenile lifer” in Illinois said, “The callousness and mean-spirited tactics of these offender advocates towards our families has been hurtful to watch. The legal nightmare continues for us.”
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NOVJL’s victim stories, extensive research on juveniles who kill, national news, debunking of offender advocates false claims about brain science, and more is available at the NOVJL website, www.teenkillers.org. As NOVJL’s membership has grown nationally, we are changing our name to NOVJM, the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers.

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Join us on Social Media

As NOVJM’s new president, outreach is at the top of my list.  Nothing can be more essential to this than social media.  We have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and now Google+.  You can find the links in the sidebar on the main page as well as below.

In addition to our social media, simply being eyes and ears in the field can allow us to reach many more people.  If you see a name in a news item please feel free to pass it along.  We want families to know they are not alone.

Our new email is also NOVJMorg@gmail.com

Google+

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/103397973296207113357

Twitter

https://twitter.com/VctmsTeenKillrs

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/37102280669/

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Welcome to www.teenkillers.org (also www.jlwopvictims.org).

“Victims don’t want vengeance, they want healing: but there is no healing until justice is done.  And justice is never ‘done’ as long as the sentence can be undone.”

~NOVJL member

Dawn Romig Testifies at the Pennsylvania State Capitol

Dawn Romig Testifies at the Pennsylvania State Capitol

NOVJL member, Dawn Romig of Pennsylvania

Dawn’s precious daughter Danni Reese was brutally raped and murdered. Dawn gave testimony September 2008 in Harrisburg about the life sentence in prison being served by the 17 year old killer. Dawn is one of the few victims’ family members in the United States fortunate enough to know about the political battle being waged against “juvenile life without parole” (JLWOP) sentences. Most victims in Pennsylvania have not been told that juvenile advocates are working to potentially free these convicted murderers, and that victims view as a sentence to a lifetime of re-traumatizing parole hearings. Many families achieved at least legal finality with natural life sentences for those who murdered their loved ones.

“Those under 18 years old may as a general matter have diminished culpability relative to adults who commit the same crimes, but that DOES NOT mean their culpability is always insufficient to justify a life sentence.”

~Chief Justice John Roberts, Concurring Opinion, Graham v. Florida, 2010

“Our society tends to treat the average juvenile as less culpable than the average adult.  But the question here does not involve the average juvenile.”

~Justice Clarence Thomas, Dissenting Opinion, Graham v. Florida, 2010

“Daniels and several members of his family begged officials to lock up Markus Evans for an extended time . . . [but after Evans only served 14 months in juvenile custody for shooting and almost murdering Daniels, his 7th violent felony by age 15] Evans was released at age 17 with no supervision . . . Evans reported to police he was so angry that he robbed a liquor store and shot the clerk . . .17 year old Jonoshia Alexander . . .was found dead in the alley, shot in the back of her head.”

~Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 29, 2011

“…(T)his legislation as written opens up a tangle of issues that makes its potential impact disturbing. First, a justice system that changes the rules in the middle of the game is not just. Prosecutors and judges already have discretion in seeking and imposing life-without-parole sentences and have reserved it for the ‘worst of the worst.’ . . . All states allow juveniles to be tried as adults in criminal court under certain circumstances, according to the U.S. Justice Department. . . .In all these cases, trials have been conducted, witnesses and victims’ families have testified, everyone has played by the rules. SB 9, however, is retroactive – raising serious constitutional and due-process questions. It does a legislative end run around the intent of the voters who in 2008 passed Marsy’s Law, which strengthened victims’ rights and due process. . . [giving] victims the right to ‘a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.’ SB 9 violates this provision by taking a final conclusion of a case and reopening it . . . retroactively introducing parole reviews for early release after a life-without-parole sentence had been imposed. Because murder victims’ families believed their case was over, they often did not retain the records and contacts they would need to be prepared for new parole hearings – an unfair violation of due process, they say. Importantly, appeals and clemency are already available for sentences deemed too harsh. Last January, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger granted clemency to Sara Kruzan, who had been sentenced to life without parole for killing her 37-year-old pimp. ”

Sacramento Bee VIEWPOINT – August 2011 – Recommending a NO Vote on the “Flawed” SB 9 that was defeated.

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NOVJL Blog

This is a test run

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