Knoxville murder victims’ families upset over proposal to reduce sentences for juveniles tried as adults

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A bill allowing reduced sentences for juveniles tried as adults has some murder victims’ families upset and taking action.

The bill would make it so that juveniles tried as adults and found guilty of violent crimes could apply to have their sentences reduced. The sponsor says a change is needed but some murder victims’ families say the bill isn’t fair. Dan Frye’s father was murdered in 1990 by a teenager and he continually feels the loss.

“Every time you have a happy event in your family, it is just as if that person who has been murdered has been murdered again because they can’t be there,” said Frye.

Frye has written a letter to the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Jeremy Faison, sharing his concerns.

“Somebody’s going to recommit a violent act and someone is going to get hurt or someone is going to be killed by one of these people that can be let go,” said Frye.

Under the amended bill a juvenile convicted of violent crime, tried as an adult, can apply for a reduced sentence. Jeanne Dotts-Brykalski has started a petition asking for signatures opposing the bill. Her parents were murdered in 1995 by three teens.

“Murder cannot be undone it’s permanent. There’s no parole for the families. There’s no parole for the victims,” said Dotts-Brykalski.

Rep. Faison explained why he sponsored this bill.

“Right now there are children who have been transferred and have been put in prison for life or 51 years that killed their perpetrator that killed someone who was victimizing them and I want us to take a look at it from the state standpoint,” said Faison.

He says he filed the bill, not for it to pass, but to start a conversation

“I don’t intend to pass this bill right now. What I intend to do is get all the stake holders involved and speaking sometimes you file a bill just to get everybody involved,” said Faison.

As the bill is written today, Frye is in fierce opposition.

“I’m totally against letting anybody out who has committed murder as a juvenile. It’s too big of a risk for the rest of us,” said Frye.

Faison plans to have a summer study where he talks to prosecutors, juvenile judges and advocate groups about the bill and what changes could be made to reduce the sentences of juveniles who killed their perpetrators. The bill is currently in the criminal justice sub-committee. Faison says he has contacted the chair of the committee and made him aware he does not want the bill to move forward.

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