Letter To House Criminal Justice Committee About The Dangers Of HB 552

Good morning, House Criminal Justice Committee.

I am the Ohio coordinator for the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM). I am writing to express concern about House Bill 552, which would limit sentencing options for juvenile criminals. I am worried about this bill, not only as NOVJM’s Ohio coordinator, but as an Ohio citizen.

HB 552 would make mass murderers who kill three or more people and terrorist murderers eligible for parole after no more than 30 years. The bill would not apply retroactively to mass murderers such as T.J. Lane, the Chardon High School shooter. The authors of HB 552 have presumably recognized that the Chardon High School killer is too dangerous to release. But T.J. Lane is not the only juvenile criminal in Ohio who poses an ongoing danger. While HB 552 would not retroactively reduce Lane’s sentence, it would retroactively reduce the sentences of several other violent criminals, criminals who pose as much of a threat to society as T.J. Lane. I will list just some of the dangerous criminals HB 552 could release.

  • Devonere Simmonds. Simmonds went on a violent crime spree, which involved robberies, a carjacking, two attempted murders, and two murders. One of the murders was committed during a convenience store robbery. Simmonds shot store clerk Imran Ashgar in the eye and departed. He then returned and fatally shot Imran in the head. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/ohio-offenders/devonere-simmonds/ 
  • Gavon Ramsay. Ramsay was a highly disturbed and twisted individual, who fantasized about murdering people. One day, he broke into 98-year-old Margaret Douglas’s home with the plan of living out his fantasy and seeing what it would feel like to kill. He filmed Margaret as she slept and then strangled her to death. Ramsay, who has been diagnosed as a sexual sadist, undressed Margaret’s corpse and abused it for several hours. He took several videos and photographs of the abuse, including some that were of a sexual nature. Investigators later found Ramsay’s notebook, which contained writings about raping and strangling people, serial killer biographies, and fantasies of murdering people. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/ohio-offenders/gavon-ramsay/ 
  • Jacob LaRosa. LaRosa invaded the home of 94-year-old Marie Belcastro and attempted to rape her. LaRosa beat Marie to death with a heavy metal flashlight and left her half-naked body in a bedroom. He beat her so severely that eyes ruptured and the top of her skull was crushed. He later bragged to other inmates about the crime. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/ohio-offenders/jacob-larosa/ 
  • Jordyn Wade. Wade was an active participant in the murders of four people and the attempted murder of one other during a home invasion robbery. Wade and his partner in crime Robert Adams forced the home’s occupants into the basement. Adams then asked Wade, “should I off them all?” Wade answered, “yes,” prompting Adams to massacre the hostages. Because Wade was not the principal offender, HB 552 would retroactively reduce his sentence. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/ohio-offenders/jordyn-wade/ 
  • Chaz Bunch and Brandon Moore. Bunch and Moore kidnapped a young woman at gunpoint in Youngstown. They proceeded to rob and repeatedly gang-rape her at gunpoint. Before letting her go, Moore shoved a gun into the victim’s mouth and threatened to harm her and her family if she told anyone about the crimes. Bunch wanted to murder her. https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2016/2016-Ohio-8288.pdf

These are some of the violent criminals who could be released into society, should HB 552 pass. These rapists and killers have far too great a capacity for depravity for us to trust them to safely join society. Far too often, murderers and other violent criminals who are still dangerous manipulate parole boards into releasing them, allowing them to commit more crimes in society. NOVJM lists nearly 100 examples of dangerous early releases on our website.http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/myths-about-the-juvenile-life-sentence/dangerous-early-release/ 

HB 552 would increase the likelihood of dangerous early releases and put society in danger. As a victim advocate who has spoken with many murder victims’ families, this concerns me. I don’t want anyone else to experience what they did. I am also worried about this bill as an Ohio citizen. As a woman, I am especially concerned about the potential release of the Youngstown gang rapists and other sex-offenders. 

HB 552 puts the freedom of these rapists and murderers above Ohio citizens’ most basic right–safety. As an organization made of victims of such criminals, we believe that the rights of law-abiding Ohioans to avoid going through the pain we have should take precedence over the freedom of these violent criminals. NOVJM asks that you seriously consider the possibility of these rapists and killers being released. If you do not want to see them released, we ask that you not vote to make that a possibility. 

Sincerely, NOVJM’s Ohio coordinator, and a concerned Ohio citizen.