Should Murderers Be Forced to Face Their Victims’ Families? [AUDIO]
In 2010, 22-year-old Alyssa Ruggiero was shot six times at close range. She had no chance to survive.
In January, Guiseppe Tedesco was convicted of Alyssa's murder, but he's filed a motion to waive his right to appear at sentencing so he can avoid hearing Alyssa's family members give their impact statements.
Two lawmakers plan to introduce a bill today that would require convicted defendants to be present at sentencing.
"Alyssa had no choice whether to face Tedesco," says Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, one of the bill's prime sponsors. "He doesn't deserve a choice now whether to face those who are grieving her loss."
The State Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in Tedesco's case and is expected to issue a ruling sometime this fall.
"Crime victims will always feel the pain, loss and suffering caused by crime," explains Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce, the measure's other prime sponsor. "They deserve the opportunity to confront those who harmed them before justice is served."
The legislation would amend the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights to strengthen victims' rights to make an in-person statement directly to the court and the offender at sentencing.
"It's mind boggling to think that the Supreme Court has to even consider whether a convicted murderer has to appear in court for his sentencing," says DeCroce. "The last words a violent criminal should hear before being locked up should be from the friends and families left behind."
Both DeCroce and Bucco are urging the Supreme Court to side with crime victims and say they will fight to change the law to make sure this situation never arises again.
"Those who have been convicted of an egregious crime against humanity cannot dictate to the courts, or those they have victimized, how they will receive their punishment," says Bucco. "This is making a mockery of our justice system."