I am the president of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM).
My pregnant sister Nancy and her husband Richard were murdered by a 16-year-old in 1990. The murderer invaded their home, shot Richard in the head, and shot Nancy in her pregnant belly as she cowered in the corner begging for her baby’s life.
NOVJM believes that justice is best served by giving courts many sentencing options, including life sentences. This prioritizes public safety against offenders who may always remain dangerous. The availability of longer sentences, where appropriate, allows victims to experience some sense of justice and legal finality, especially when the sentencing options keep frequent and re-traumatizing parole hearings to an absolute minimum. Victims suffer staggering life and health problems when having to re-engage with those who murdered their loved ones.
NOVJM opposes SB 247 because it would unnecessarily re-traumatize victims. Because of the bill’s retroactivity, many victims were never planning on parole hearings, increasing the traumatic impact.
Then there is the issue of safety. Some people will always pose a risk to society. Some are psychopaths and sociopaths. Psychopathy and sociopathy are incurable conditions characterized by a lack of remorse or empathy. Some psychopathic offenders have been sentenced for crimes committed as juveniles. Parole boards and judges often make mistakes and release dangerous criminals into society. Studies show that psychopaths are 2.5 times more likely to be granted conditional release than non-psychopaths due to their skills at manipulating. Our Dangerous Early Release page documents over 90 examples of offenders being released early and committing more violent crimes in society.
Thank you for considering NOVJM’s opposition to SB 247. We respectfully ask that it
not be made law.
 We explain the pain murder victims’ families endure when forced to repeatedly engage with the murderers in our brief for the Supreme Court of the United States in the Jones v. Mississippi case. https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/18/18-1259/150986/20200911140013631_20200911-135749-95751522-00000210.pdf
Dear House Judiciary Committee,
Thank you for allowing me to testify against Senate Bill 247, which would deny justice and hurt victims.
Justice demands sentences that are proportionate to the crimes. 15 years is nowhere near proportionate to highly aggravated crimes like the Clovis Library massacre, which left two women dead and four others injured. Setting parole eligibility after 15 years would allow Clovis shooter Nathaniel Jouett to serve only 2.5 years per victim shot. Other juveniles who deserve longer sentences than 15 years include:
- Jimmy Orsinger, 16, murdered Alyce Slim, 63, and her nine-year-old granddaughter Tiffany. Orsinger and an accomplice tricked Alyce into giving them a ride. They planned to carjack her. They fatally stabbed Alyce 33 times and placed her dead body into the back of the car. The killers then abducted Tiffany, forcing her to sit in back with her dead grandmother. They later killed Tiffany by slitting her throat and crushing her head with large rocks. Two months before murdering Tiffany and Alyce, Orsinger had committed another double murder involving carjacking, robbery, and kidnapping.
- Ralph Cruz, 16, attempted to carjack Lucila Bojorquez and her six and seven-year-old children at gunpoint. When Lucila did not comply, he shot and killed her and drove off with her car. The children, Brandon and Jenny, were still inside the car. Cruz later murdered them by shooting them in their heads.
These are just some examples of juveniles who committed heinous crimes with a complete understanding of the results and with the desire to bring about those results. SB 247 greatly minimizes the severity of crimes like these by stating that they only warrant 15 years. It also devalues the worth of what the murderers took from their victims—their lives.
NOVJM urges you to vote NO on SB 247.
 Read more about our opposition to SB 247 here https://teenkillers.org/legislation/new-mexico-sb-247/ Over 2,000 people, mostly New Mexicans agree with our position and have signed our petition. https://www.change.org/p/new-mexico-legislature-prevent-bill-that-will-deny-justice-and-harm-crime-victims
A Colorado victim
My son Andrew, 23, was murdered in 2009. It is difficult to describe the impact of the loss of my son and the constant bombardment of repeated court appearances and dealing with the Department of Corrections. That first year, the grief was overwhelming. I did not sleep or eat. If I was not crying, I had no affect at all. I have learned to deal with the loss of my son. The pain of losing a child never goes away. You just get used to it.
Andrew was a University of Colorado (CU) graduate. He was going to attend graduate school at CU where he would be the first person to go through a program in Applied Mathematics related to engineering. But Andrew never got the chance. He was targeted by five juveniles because he was alone, white, and looked like he had money. They followed him from Denver to Lonetree, Colorado via the light rail, a 40-minute trip. After Andrew exited the light rail they surrounded and attacked him.
The misuse of neuroscience to support proposed leniency for juvenile offenders is ill-advised. Neuroscientists don’t know when one’s brain becomes a legal adult. In Roper vs. Simmons, the American Psychological Association argued that a 17-year-old murderer’s developing brain made him less culpable. They argued the opposite in the Hodgson vs. Minnesota case, stating that adolescent decision-making was virtually indistinguishable from adult decision-making by 14 or 15.
I would find it untenable to have to go through parole hearings after only 15 years. I just went through a parole hearing and it took me a week to feel reasonably normal. Please consider my words as you make your decision. Andrew and other murder victims were truly innocent. They need to be considered.
Andrew Graham 2007 Number 55 Ultimate Frisbee Team “Mamabird” University of Colorado
 Andrew’s memorial. https://teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/colorado-victims/andrew-graham/
 Information on Andrew’s murder. https://teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/colorado-offenders/andrew-grahams-killers/
A California victim
When I was six my mother was murdered by Miguel Herrera, 17. This was especially difficult because I was a child. The pain my family and I have endured after going through four parole hearings and seeing Herrera released is unbearable. Murder victims’ families get life sentences even though they did nothing wrong.
People say it gets easier with time, but not when you’re a child with a whole life ahead. Not when your mom won’t make it to school performances, parent-teacher meetings, mother-daughter dates, or graduations, or see your firstborn child. If I want to be close to her, I have to sit next to her grave.
I have a six-year-old daughter. She tells me, “Mommy, I missed you so much and I was crying for you while you were at work.” For me it was different. I cried and missed my mom as a kid, but unlike most people, my mom never got out of work and came to pick me up and take me home. After November 4th, 1992, she never came back for me again.
At parole hearings, I had to sit across from the murderer. My leg would shake. I would look at his hands thinking “how could you use those hands to kill my mom and how could you walk back to your truck after leaving her body on the side of the road?” Parole hearings feel like retrials. To go through this after only 15 years would be torture.
A 15-year sentence is not justice. It is nowhere near enough time for a murderer to truly change. It’s only enough time for them to wait it out knowing they will be young with a full life ahead of them when they are released.
An Arkansas victim
Dear House Judiciary Committee,
In 1992, my twelve-year-old sister Robin Richardson was murdered during a robbery. She had gone with Mom to work at a store. Chad Kitchell, 17, stabbed Robin in the back. Steven Waggoner, 18, shot Robin in the head and hand and shot my mother in the neck.
My father arrived later and found the gruesome scene. Robin laid dead in a pool of blood and made horrible sounds. Mom had a gaping wound in her neck which was bleeding profusely and was missing her ear.
I remember when Dad told me about the murder. I was 14. I drowned in overwhelming grief and pain. On the way to the hospital, Dad held me while I cried. His hands and sleeves were covered in blood. When Mom started waking up she kept asking “where is Robin?” Due to the strokes, she lost short-term memory. Dad had to keep telling her that Robin was gone. The murderers caused irrefutable damage. I still suffer from PTSD, depression, agoraphobia, anxiety, and panic attacks.
The murderers plead guilty and were sentenced to life without parole. While we knew Robin would never come back, we were secure in knowing that they would be in prison for life.
SB 247 is devastating and heartbreaking. Fifteen years for the brutal murder of a loved one is grossly unjust regardless of age. This bill will not only devalue victims but will also cause victims’ families to experience grievous trauma. Our family endured a resentencing hearing which caused severe mental health problems. Kitchell took my beloved sister and is now harming us even more. I know this will be a never-ending real-life nightmare for victims. We will never be able to heal as long as we have to keep coming back to fight for our loved ones.
A Louisiana victim
I am the great-niece of Rita Rabalais, who was heinously murdered by nine sadistic individuals in 1994. Four of those nine cowards were juveniles. They beat, stabbed, and choked Aunt Rita. She was 82. She was a little over 5 ft tall and weighed around 120 lbs.
The brain doesn’t have to be fully developed to know right from wrong. These individuals knew what they were doing. They had several conversations about the robbery/break-in/gang initiation/murder beforehand. They brought gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints. They cleaned up behind themselves. They had someone act as a lookout. Their brains were developed enough to allow them to prepare and try to protect themselves before and during this crime.
The murder has greatly affected me. I was unable to sleep at night. If someone could murder an 82-year-old woman who lived her life for Christ, I thought the same thing could happen to me. I was robbed of my sense of security.
Every time I go to court or parole hearings, my body is numb for days afterward. I sink into a state of depression. The memories flood my brain. The images of her house linger. I have nightmares.
The idea of the murderers being eligible for parole after 15 years is extremely sickening. It’s bad enough that they even get parole hearings, but to allow it after only 15 years is a slap in the face. We would have to repeatedly relive the events.
People say we don’t have to go through parole hearings and can let it go. That’s not an option. We have to be the voice of our family members. They are not alive to seek justice. The family has to do it for them. The juvenile murderers silenced them eternally.
A South Dakota victim
In 2016 my life and my family’s lives changed forever. On that evening my son Arick, 18, was beaten to death.
The devastation a parent goes through when you lose your child is beyond words. The understanding is not attainable by those who have never walked this path. As I share this tragic event, I ask you to walk hand in hand with me as parents, keeping your child at the front of your mind, as Arick is in mine.
Arick was walking down the street minding his own business. A gang of 13 teens beat him to death. They later returned and ran him over on a bike, recorded the attack, put it on Snapchat, and left him alone in the dirt to die.
One of the greatest fears parents have is getting that call in the middle of the night telling us our child has died. I learned of Arick’s death three hours later. I didn’t get a phone call or a knock on the door from the police. I witnessed the murder on Snapchat. The continuing nightmare began at this moment.
Murder victims don’t get second chances so why should the murderers have that right? Why should they get the freedom they stole?
Justice is all we have left of our loved ones. Arick has a death sentence and I and our entire family have life sentences, which started on July 23, 2016, for a crime neither I nor Arick committed.
10 years for murder is not justice. Do murder victims get to be paroled after 10 years? How can one heal if they are constantly being dragged in and out of hearings and rehearing details that were traumatizing enough the first time?
Vote no on SB 247.
A Wisconsin victim
I am the mother of Noah Adrian Williams, who was murdered on April 6, 2018, during a home-invasion robbery.
Noah was 18. He was a community college student and aspired to have a career either working with computers or in horticulture. He never got to have a career, or get married, or have kids. He never got to live past age 18. Because on that night in April 2018, a 17-year-old invaded his home and murdered him. The killer, Charles Martin, repeatedly stabbed my son in his neck, torso, right arm, and right hand. He also stabbed Noah’s roommate 12 times, including once in the neck.
Noah’s murder has destroyed my once beautiful family. My daughter Emma was 11 years old when her brother was murdered. My other children were five and three. My children had their innocence stolen. Parole hearings would force us to relive it constantly and traumatize us. The thought of the killer being free after what he did is terrible. Especially after only 15 years.
The murder of my son was not some dumb youthful mistake. Martin planned the robbery home-invasion for a week beforehand. If he could make a choice like that and follow through with it he had to have some determination.
SB 247 would prioritize the freedom of murderers like Martin over public safety. It would force victims like me and my family to go through agonizing parole hearings and relive the crimes. Victims deserve justice and legal finality. They should not be forced to spend their lives fighting parole. I beg you to protect victims from this trauma by voting no on SB 247.
An Ohio victim
Dear House Judiciary Committee,
I am a member of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM) and I am on the Survivor Advisory Board for the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center (OCVJC).
My story begins in 2016 when a police officer knocked on my door and told me what would change my life forever, that my son, Ronnie Bowers III, 16, had been shot. Five individuals hunted down Ronnie and his friends. They found Ronnie backing out of a driveway and blocked him in. Three of them ran up to the car and one punched Ronnie in the face through the window. Ronnie backed out and tried to drive away. But Kylen Gregory, 16, shot Ronnie.
Over the next five days, I watched Ronnie’s condition deteriorate. The bullet entered the back of his brain and lodged in his forehead. I was helpless as Ronnie’s cerebral fluid gushed out his nose. Ronnie’s 12-year-old brother was also there. Ronnie died and we were forced to bury him.
Ronnie’s murder was not a misguided mistake. Gregory had been in trouble many times before. When a psychiatrist asked Gregory if he was sorry, he replied, “I didn’t kill him, God did. It’s not my fault God didn’t want him to live.” When I was stuck in a courthouse hallway with him, he looked at me, laughed, and put his fingers like a gun up to his head, and pretended to shoot himself. I cannot imagine facing him at parole hearings after 15 years.
15 years for a senseless murder is a smack in the face to victims. The difference in a few months in age is arbitrary and insignificant. A 16-year-old knows what’s right and wrong. Their birthday does not change the facts of their crimes. I urge you to vote no on SB 247.
A Michigan victim
In 1990, my husband Dave was robbed and murdered by Amy Black, 16, and Jeff Abrahamson, 19. They lured him to their apartment and tried to trick him into trying on jeans. The plan was to get him to take off his jeans and leave his wallet in the pocket so that they could steal it. But their plan didn’t work. So they beat and stabbed him to death. The killers then used Dave’s money to go Christmas shopping. Black later told police that she wanted to know what it felt like to kill and not be caught.
It is incomprehensible that I have to write testimony to fight a bill that could free juvenile murderers after 15 years. This is beyond cruel victims. As if victims haven’t suffered enough. Now, we have people telling us that we don’t matter; that it is more important to free murderers like Black than it is to respect grieving families.
I became a widow at 30 and a single parent to two children, ages seven and 12. It was painful to watch our friends do things I and Dave had enjoyed. Our children had milestones they could not share with Dave. The killers robbed us of these special moments. They can’t give back what they took. They shouldn’t have the freedom they stole from him.
I understand that teenagers make impulsive mistakes. But what Black did, a premeditated, violent slaying, has nothing to do with an immature, impulsive underdeveloped brain. If we recklessly place all juvenile crimes in this “juvenile mistake” category, we are setting our world up to be a more dangerous place where there are no limits to violence, no consequences, and the age-old saying becomes a reality: people really can “get away with murder”.