Mother questions felon sentencing after daughter's death

Mother questions felon sentencing after daughter's death

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Moore received hundreds of comments and thousands of likes from her post to Gov. Haslam's Facebook wall. Moore received hundreds of comments and thousands of likes from her post to Gov. Haslam's Facebook wall.
John Perkins (source: Tennessee Department of Correction) John Perkins (source: Tennessee Department of Correction)

By SAMANTHA SARACINO
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - The mother of a teen killed in an accident is reaching out to Gov. Bill Haslam and other government officials, asking for more strict sentencing of felons.

Amelia Keown, 16, died two weeks ago in a head-on collision.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says John Perkins, 44, crossed the center line on Highway 411 at Binfield Road, hitting Keown head on. Perkins also died from his injuries.

Keown's mother said someone with a criminal record as long as Perkins should not have been on the road.

Amelia Keown's family is still in disbelief that she is gone.

"I will never see her go to prom. I'll never see her graduate," said Amanda Keown Moore, Amelia's mother. "I'll never see her get married. I won't see her have babies. I won't see all of these things, because of a choice that he made."

Moore says the accident could have been avoided if a driver with a criminal background like Perkins was not on the road.

"When I pulled his record and saw how many felonies he had, I couldn't understand how he was still out driving," she said.

Perkins' criminal history is a long one - multiple aggravated robbery charges, felony escape, felony for violating probation and drug possession are just some of the charges filed against Perkins.

Moore says if laws were stricter and Perkins was still in jail, Amelia's death could have been avoided.

"When I pulled the report and saw the record, I said something has got to be done because he isn't the only one out there driving the roads like this," said Moore. "He's not the only one that could have caused this."

She decided to take action and raise awareness by contacting government officials.

"I contacted our state representative, Bob Ramsey. I even emailed the White House. I was emailing anybody and everybody I could possibly think of that could do something. But the post on Gov. Haslam's Facebook page is the one that has received the most attention," Moore explained.

By a lot of attention, Moore means the more than 700 comments and 11,000 "likes" she has received on her Facebook page.

"Her death is not just going to be meaningless," said Moore. "Something good has to come out of what happened."

Rep. Ramsey responded to Moore via email.

Gov. Haslam responded Tuesday on his Facebook page:

"Amanda and family, The safety and security of Tennesseans is a top priority. Addressing the problem of repeat offenders and their actions is one of our biggest challenges. Earlier this year we worked with the General Assembly to pass tougher sentencing laws in several areas along with legislation to begin to tackle the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee. These laws resulted from a multi-year public safety action plan.

The plan was put together by the public safety working group that I appointed upon taking office. The group is led by Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and has members from 11 state agencies and departments including Safety, the TBI, and the Department of Correction to name a few.

I have asked them to take the information from Amelia's case to continue looking at ways to address repeat offenders.

Again, Crissy and I are terribly sorry for your loss. Having two daughters of our own, we can't even imagine the hurt you are feeling."

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