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Gov. Martinez vetoes bill for child murder
NEW MEXICO Newsby TomTerrific
Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:59 am

SANTA FE - Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday vetoed a crime bill she saidactually would have undercut district attorneys in high-stakes cases.The bill as first drafted permitted sentences of life in prison withoutpossibility of parole for those convicted of first-degree murder of a child. But Martinez said amendments to the bill by the SenateJudiciary Committee created something different by allowing exceptions based on the age of the killer and the particulars of the crime. Martinez, a former district attorney, said one effect of the rewritten bill could have been lighter punishment for certain killers. For instance, she said, if a 17-year-old murdered a police officer in the line ofduty, the amended bill would shield the killerfrom a life prison term without parole. Martinez said in her veto message that she would have supported the original bill, but could not accept the changes to it. The sponsor, Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, said she did not believe amendments to her bill made the legal system less strict. "I'm devastated," Garcia, D-Do-a Ana, said of the veto. Garcia said her intent was simple: She wanted to target predatory childkillers, such as the murderer of Adam Walsh in Florida. Walsh was 6years old when somebody abducted him from a mall and murdered him.

Serial killer Ottis Toole subsequently confessed to killing the boy, though he recanted and died without being tried in Walsh's death. Garcia said those who prey on children younger than 13should face the harshest penalty available in New Mexico life in prison without the chance of parole. New Mexico legislators outlawed the death penalty in 2009. Garcia said she did not know if the governor vetoedon the bill because of their political disagreements over driver's licenses for illegal immigrants or forced retention of third-graders who are in the bottom tier on reading tests. But Martinez, in herveto message, applauded Garcia for the original bill. Martinez said the amended version simply had holes in it. As originally drafted, the bill would have meant life without parole possible for Tiffany Toribio, who pleaded guilty to suffocating her toddler son, then burying him at a playground in Albuquerque, Martinez said. But, she said, an amendment to Garcia's bill said the punishment of life without parole depended on the child being "forcibly abducted." "Clearly, Ms. Toribio did not forcibly abduct her son before she intentionally killed him," Martinez said. Garcia said she had not intended her bill as one to heighten punishments for busive parents. She said she wanted to strengthen the law so that child predators who kill could never get out of prison. Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, was one of two senators who voted againstthe bill. He said he did not understand the logic of increasing sentences based on the narrow circumstances that Garcia outlined.

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Why do law makers have to be so difficult? The wording should say "If you kill a child who you abducted, if you kill a child who you are abusing, if you kill a child through any illegal act other than accidental killing, you go to jail forever, you don't get parole, you stay there until you die!

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