New Mexico SB 247 Testimony-Senate Public Health & Affairs Committee

Senate Public Health & Affairs Committee Testimony regarding SB 247.

Oral Testimony from a New Mexico Victim

Good afternoon. My name is Evie Fisher and I respectfully speak in opposition to this bill for many reasons. My life has been forever altered by a violent act of local terror at the hands of a juvenile in the Clovis Carver Public Library shooting that occurred on August 28th, 2017. He was in full awareness of his actions as he opened fire in a public space that resulted in the murder of two women – one of which being my mom. In addition to their deaths, he wounded several others in physical and mental ways that continue to cause anguish to this very day. The violence that the men, women, and children witnessed in the library that day is inescapable. We will be haunted in a prison of our own for the rest of our days because we can’t have our loved ones back and never should have had to bear witness to that kind of bloodshed. My mother had an entire second half of her life still left to live, and if he is potentially released after 10-15 years- justice will not have been served. I am a person who honestly believes in redemption. I believe he can redeem his soul slowly from within the correctional facility serving his two life sentences to completion. His choices rippled out to too many lives for me to be overly concerned about his localized single life. I don’t ask for inhumane conditions. I ask for justice. He should not be able to resume a normal life when he has taken our normal lives away from us. I should be able to call my mom on her birthday every year and tell her I love her, and now I can’t. I have to tell her in prayer- and there are days where that is as hard as the day I lost her. I cannot support the passing of Senate Bill 247. Thank you for hearing my statement, and I appreciate your consideration.

Oral Testimony From Our National Legislative Director

Hello. Thank you everyone for allowing me to come and speak today. I’m representing the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers.
I think I just want to start my testimony by saying that, like our previous witness (district attorney Barbara Romo) said, not all juvenile crimes are just dumb immature mistakes. And I think a previous witness said that juvenile crimes are “errors in judgment, critical errors in judgment.” But that is just not true. Some juvenile crimes are evil like the Clovis Library shooting. Or one example I give in my written testimony, a 16-year-old young man kidnapped a two-year-old girl, raped her, and strangled and beat her to death. That’s not a youthful indiscretion. That’s not an immature mistake. That’s evil. And so victims like that little girl, they don’t get “second chances”, they don’t get parole hearings.

And we think that justice demands punishments that are proportionate to the crimes. And 15 years for a highly aggravated murder like that is just not proportionate. A sentence that light, we feel like it devalues the victims and demeans the crimes. And also, I’ll really quickly mention that this bill would give juvenile murderers excessive numbers of parole hearings. A juvenile who lives to be in his 70s would potentially get dozens of parole hearings if he’s eligible every two years and he gets it after 15 years.

The parole process is very painful for victims. I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve counseled many victims who have gone through it as a victim advocate. During parole hearings victims suffer flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms. And so by forcing victims to relive the crimes and endure parole hearings every two years this bill would trap them in a never-ending cycle of trauma. And so we ask that you just remember the victims like that little girl I told you about who was raped and murdered at the age of two. Just remember them. And don’t put the rights of evil murderers above them. Thank you very much.

Written Testimony From Our President

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

I am the president of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM). 1

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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.2

NOVJM opposes SB 247 because it would unnecessarily re-traumatize victims. Victims would be forced to endure perhaps dozens of agonizing parole hearings. 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.3 Some psychopathic offenders have been sentenced for crimes committed as juveniles. Parole boards and judges often make mistakes and release dangerous criminals into society. In fact, studies show that psychopaths are 2.5 times more likely to be granted conditional release than non-psychopaths due to their skills at manipulating.4   Our Dangerous Early Release documents over 90 examples of offenders being released early and committing more violent crimes in society.5 

Thank you for considering NOVJM’s position. We ask that you vote no on SB 247. 

  1. http://www.teenkillers.org/
  2.  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 

4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1348/135532508X284310

5.  http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/myths-about-the-juvenile-lifesentence/dangerous-early-release/

Written Testimony From Our National Legislative Director

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

Thank you for allowing me to submit written opposition testimony regarding Senate Bill 247. I am the national legislative director for the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM).[1]

To promote their agenda, juvenile offender advocates portray all juvenile crimes as simply being “mistakes” made due to impaired judgment. However, some juveniles commit heinous crimes with a complete understanding of the results and with the desire to bring about those results. For example, Jose Arredondo, 16, kidnapped two-year-old Katherine Cardenas, raped her, and beat and strangled her to death.[2]

Justice demands that the sentence given to an offender be proportionate to their crime. 10 years is nowhere near proportionate to highly aggravated murders. SB 247 proponents greatly minimize the severity of juvenile murders by claiming that they only warrant 10 years. They also devalue the worth of what the murderers took from their victims—their lives.

Many victims whose loved ones are brutally murdered oppose the release of the killers. To fight parole, they speak up at parole hearings. This forces victims to relive the murders. The murder of a loved one causes people to suffer severe health problems such as PTSD and anxiety. These conditions flare up whenever victims have to re-engage with the murderer and relive the crime. Victims suffer flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms.

SB 247 would give juvenile murderers excessive numbers of parole hearings. A 17-year-old murderer would be eligible for parole at 27. If he lives to be 75, he would be entitled to 25 parole hearings, assuming he isn’t ultimately released. SB 247 would trap victims in a never-ending cycle of trauma.

NOVJM asks that this Committee stand up for justice and victims’ rights by voting against this outrageously cruel bill. 


[1] http://www.teenkillers.org/

[2] http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/texas-offenders/jose-arredondo/ 

Written Testimony From a Colorado Victim

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

http://www.teenkillers.org/wp-content/uploads/ANDREW-GRAHAM.jpg

I am a member of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM). My son Andrew,(1) 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.(2) 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.(3)

I would find it untenable to have to go through parole hearings after only 10 years. I just went through a parole hearing and it took me a week to feel reasonably normal. Having to endure them every two years after that is unthinkable. The legislature does not have the right to force victims to endure barrages of parole hearings after the offender has served only 10 years.  Please consider my words as you make your decision. Andrew and other murder victims were truly innocent. They need to be considered. 

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Andrew Graham 2007 Number 55 Ultimate Frisbee Team “Mamabird” University on Colorado

  1. Andrew’s memorial. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/colorado-victims/andrew-graham/ 
  2.  Information on Andrew’s murder. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/colorado-offenders/andrew-grahams-killers/
  3.  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.  

Written Testimony From a California Victim

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

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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 10 years and every two years afterward would be torture.

A 10-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.

Written Testimony From an Arkansas Victim

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

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I am Latrisha Barnett. I am a member of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers. In 1992, my twelve-year-old sister Robin Richardson (1) 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 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. Ten 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. 

  1. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/arkansas-victims/robin-richardson/
  2. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/arkansas-offenders/chad-kitchell

Written Testimony From a Louisiana Victim

I am the great-niece of Rita Rabalais,(1) who was heinously murdered by nine sadistic individuals in 1994.  Four of those nine cowards were juveniles.(2) 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.  

 Rita Sybil <I>Juneau</I> Rabalais

The idea of the murderers being eligible for parole after 10 years and then every two years after that is extremely sickening. It’s bad enough that they even get parole hearings, but to allow it after only 10 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.

1.    http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/louisiana-victims/rita-rabalais/

2. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/louisiana-offenders/cedric-howard-daveon-mccullough-joseph-elie-joseph-green/

Written Testimony From a South Dakota Victim

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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? Do they get to come back to life every two 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. 

Written Testimony From a Wisconsin Victim

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee,

My name is Bobby Joe Williams. I am the mother of Noah Adrian Williams,(1) who was murdered on April 6, 2018, during a home-invasion robbery. I am a member of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM). 

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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 10 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 every two years. 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.

  1.  http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/wisconsin/noah-williams/

Written Testimony From an Ohio Victim

Dear Senate Health and Public Affairs 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). I am writing to oppose SB 247. 

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,(1) 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.

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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.

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 every two years. 

No description available.

10 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. 

1.teenkillers.org/index.php/memorials/ohio-victims/ronald-bowers-iii

Written Testimony From 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 10 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”.

Dave’s memorial