The New York State Senate today passed a bill that will help homicide victims and their families receive greater justice when criminals are sentenced. The bill (S2159), sponsored by Senator Sue Serino (R-C-I, Hyde Park), closes a sentencing loophole for a single criminal act that involves two or more offenses, including at least one homicide.
Senator Serino said, “This bill is about justice and I am proud that it has once again passed the Senate. Concurrent sentencing essentially allows a perpetrator to get away with murder. The loophole robbed a local family of justice and we have a responsibility to ensure that no other family suffers at the hands of the system the way they have. Today, I call on my colleagues in the Assembly to put justice before politics and pass this important legislation.”
The bill permits sentences for two or more crimes to run consecutively, when one of such crimes is a homicide. Currently, regardless of the number of victims killed in a single criminal act, judges must order sentences to be served concurrently. Senator Serino was brought the bill following the 2012 deaths of Shawn and Patricia Wonderly. The Poughkeepsie couple was killed in a car crash by a felon actively fleeing from police. Due to current law, the judge was mandated to sentence the defendant to concurrent terms, even though the lives of two individuals were taken.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.