Lauria and Ashley's Law Passes Committee

Friday, 09 February 2024 07:32

Lauria and Ashley's Law Passes Committee Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami, today secured passage of a bill in committee that would add accessory to murder in the first or second degree to the list of crimes that would require an offender to serve 85% of their prison sentence before being eligible for consideration for parole. Those convicted also would not be eligible to earn any type of credits that would reduce the sentence to below 85% of what was imposed.

House Bill 2946 is named Lauria and Ashley's Law after 16-year-olds Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, of Welch, who were kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed in 1999. The measure passed  out of the House Judiciary-Civil Committee and is now eligible for consideration by the full House.

Bashore said his legislation was a response to the shockingly low number of years to which the person accused of accessory to felony murder in this case was sentenced and his early release from prison last year.

"Family members of the young women killed in this case came to me imploring my help when they realized the person guilty of accessory to murder was to be released after serving so little time in prison for this horrific crime," Bashore said. "They also are concerned that he's now free to move about their community in close proximity to their family. I'm hoping that no other family going forward will have to go through such a shock after suffering such a devastating loss."

Ronnie Busick was convicted of accessory to felony murder in the case that also involved the shooting deaths of Ashley's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman. Their remains were discovered in their mobile home that had been set on fire. The bodies of the teens have never been found, but court records indicate they were thrown into a Picher area mine pit.

Busick was sentenced in 2020 to 10 years in prison and five years' probation for his involvement in the murders, which happened Dec. 31, 1999. It is reported he was offered a lower sentence in exchange for information to help investigators locate the bodies of the teens. Even though Busick was allowed to plea down to the lesser crime, he was unable to provide information leading to the discovery of the teens' bodies. They have not been recovered.

According to the Department of Corrections, Busick was credited with three years of time served in a county jail and subsequent good-days earned while incarcerated, leading to his release date of May 19, 2023. He is on supervised probation for one year.

"While these girls are dead and missing after being tortured, raped and murdered, this individual is living back in district because he only got five years," Bashore said. "He got credit for brushing his teeth, for taking a shower, for personal hygiene, while this family is out here trying to find their kids. This perpetrator did not pay his debt to society and there's no guarantee a new or similar crime will not be committed.

"At the very least, this bill would ensure criminals like him would have to serve more of their actual time and would not earn credits toward their release."

Bashore said he learned of Busick's release from Lisa Bible Brodrick, a cousin of Lauria Bible, who is a constituent in his House District 7. After meeting with the family, he first wrote a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond asking him to review the prosecution and sentencing of Busick. He then decided to file legislation.

If enacted, Lauria and Ashley's Law would go into effect Nov. 1, 2024.

 

Steve Bashore serves District 7 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes Ottawa County and parts of Craig and Delaware counties.

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