State Senator John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, won a victory in Albany in the name of Clay murder victim Lori Bresnahan. His proposed legislation will allow Family Court Clerks to provide juvenile records to prosecutors when a defendant is charged with a sex offense. Currently, those records are automatically sealed. Click here to read the bill. It has not been voted on in the State Assembly.
The legislation was inspired by the arrest of murder and rape suspect David Renz. His alleged juvenile offense were sealed in Onondaga County Family Court. Those records were not available to police or prosecutors before Federal Magistrate Andrew Baxter released Renz on home confinement with an electronic monitoring device a prior arrest on child pornography charges in January. Prosecutors say Renz broke free of his GPS tracking device and killed Bresnahan and raped a child in March.
Changing state law has been a major focus of the man who was first on the scene the night of the killing and rape. In an exclusive series of interviews in February, Bill Cregg told Michael Benny that 'someone fell asleep when it came to Lori Bresnahan and the little girl.' The passage of the legislation in the State Senate is one step in correcting that, Cregg believes.
Here is the justification for the new law - as written in the State Senate bill:
In March of 2013, a 29 year man required to wear an electronic monitoring device as a condition of his release from jail on child pornography charges, brought in federal Court, disabled the device, and traveled to a local mall in a Syracuse suburb, where he abducted a woman and ten year old child. He raped the ten-year old and then murdered the woman. During the investigation of this heinouscrime it was discovered that the perpetrator had a sealed family Court record related to a previous sexual offense charge. Had those records been unsealed and reviewed at the time the child pornography charges were brought, this man may not have been granted the conditional release, and this tragic crime could have been prevented. By granting a Family Court officer the authority to review sealed records to determine if that record pertains to a sexual offense, and promptly provide them to a Court and/or prosecutor, future catastrophic events such as this could be prevented. However, the bill also continues to afford protections to juveniles for offenses which are not sexual offenses by requiring that those records continue to remain sealed, unless released after a hearing as current law allows.