GOVERNOR PROPOSES TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR MURDER OF A CHILD (Tamiqua’s Law Mandates Life Without Parole for Killers of Young Children)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Governor George E. Pataki today announced that he has introduced legislation that would mandate life without parole as the minimum sentence for violent felons who murder a child under 15 years of age while in the process of committing a sexual offense, robbery, burglary, kidnaping or arson. The bill is titled Tamiqua's Law after 11 year-old Tamiqua Gutierrez, who was found raped and murdered in the hallway of her Bronx apartment building on May 8, 2001. The murder of Tamiqua Gutierrez was a heartbreaking, despicable and cowardly crime, Governor Pataki said. It's beyond comprehension that our laws could allow the perpetrator of such a barbaric act to be eligible for parole after serving only fifteen years in prison. Crimes of violence committed against children can inflict enduring, unspeakable harm and my bill will ensure that such crimes are punished more appropriately and severely. Lt. Governor Mary O. Donohue said, Unfortunately, this proposal will not bring Tamiqua back to her loved ones, nor will it erase their pain. However, families of future victims will be able to take solace in knowing that a crime of this magnitude receives the toughest sentence. Senator Dale M. Volker said, It goes without saying that the intentional killing of a child is one of the most outrageous and vile acts of violence that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, the State's criminal code is lacking in this area and the Governor's proposal to address this deficiency is smart, effective, and will make an immediate impact in bringing these despicable individuals to justice when they commit these types of heinous and repugnant acts of violence against our children. Assemblyman John J. Faso said, Governor Pataki is sending a clear message that heinous crimes against children such as the murder of Tamiqua Gutierrez will be severely punished in New York. Criminals who cause the death of an innocent child should never be allowed to walk the streets again, and if this legislation is passed, they won't. On May 8, 2001, 11 year-old Tamiqua Gutierrez was found raped and murdered in the hallway of her Bronx apartment building. Her 43 year-old neighbor was charged with luring her into his apartment where he raped and sodomized her. The offender then allegedly held a pillow over her face, rendered her unconscious, and dragged her small body into the hallway where he left her to die in a puddle of her own blood and vomit. Under current law, although such horrific acts make a person eligible for the death penalty, which was signed into law in 1995, a sentence of as little as 15 years to life in prison is also permissible. The bill recognizes that the crimes committed against Tamiqua were so atrocious and depraved that 15 years to life in prison is an inadequate measure of punishment. Tamiqua's Law would mandate a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for offenders who cause the death of a person under 15 years of age while committing or attempting to commit one of the following offenses: robbery; burglary; kidnapping; arson; rape in the first degree; sodomy in the first degree; sexual abuse in the first degree; aggravated sexual abuse; course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree; escape in the first degree; or, escape in the second degree. Under current law, a person who commits one of the enumerated felony offenses listed above and during the commission or attempted commission of the crime causes the death of a child less than 15 years of age who is not a participant in the crime, may be sentenced to as little as 15 years to life in prison. Under such a sentence, an offender, despite the heinousness of the crimes committed, would be eligible for parole after having served just 15 years. The Governor's bill exacts an appropriate measure of punishment for offenders and provides necessary protection for our children. The bill would take effect on the first day of November next succeeding the date on which it shall have become law.