Gov. responds to mom's fight to get convicted felons off streets

Gov. Haslam responds to mother's fight to get convicted felons off streets


6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - 6 News took your concerns about two deadly crashes in East Tennessee involving convicted felons to Gov. Bill Haslam.

The most recent wreck happened Sunday in Seymour. That is when troopers say a church van was hit head on by a man with multiple felony convictions. Two people died, including Courteney Kaliszewski, 16.

The second death was in August when the Tennessee Highway Patrol says another convicted felon was responsible for the death of Amelia Keown, 16, when he hit her head-on in Blount County.

Keown's mother, Amanda Moore says when she heard about the crash Sunday it made her want to work even harder to keep people who have been convicted of multiple felonies off the streets.

"It broke my heart," Moore said. "It made me angry, very angry because they were so many similarities to that and what happened to Amelia."

The driver who caused Sunday's wreck, Tyler Schaeffer, was out on parole after being convicted of robbery. The man who killed Amelia, John Perkins, was also out of prison after being convicted of numerous felonies.

"This is someone who should not have been out of prison," said Moore, "Just like the man who hit my daughter. The state of Tennessee is liable for letting them out."

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he's aware of both crashes.

"Obviously the General Assembly will have to make a decision about if they want to change any laws that might impact that," Haslam said. "Obviously, as a parent, you can't imagine anything more horrible than what the mother is feeling in this case."

To get lawmakers to act, Moore has started an online petition to create Amelia's Law. This law will broaden the three strikes your out law to include all felonies.

"The public has to get angry and demand a change before anything's going to happen," said Moore.

The governor said he's unsure if keeping felons in prison longer will prevent crashes like these from happening.

"I don't have the answer to that," Gov. Haslam said. "I think that's where I'll need to rely on people who do know a lot more about that."

Moore hopes Gov. Haslam will look at these most recent cases here, and do something about it.

"My heart is broken for those families and those effected by what happened this weekend," said Moore. "I'm so sorry they have to go through this too."     

The Amelia's Law petition already has more than 5,000 signatures. A website has been created to educate people about this proposed law.

Moore has tried to get in personal contact with the governor. So far, he has only sent her a reply on Facebook.      

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