‘Leah’s Law’ hearing on holdA bill that would require violent offenders to register like sex offenders was put on hold late last week in Madison.
By: Shelley Nelson, The Daily Telegram
A bill that would require violent offenders to register like sex offenders was put on hold late last week in Madison.
The hearing was scheduled for Wednesday before the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice to consider “Leah’s Law.” The law would require violent offenders to register with the state in a manner similar to sex offenders.
Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Summit, said the proposed law could keep communities safe through notification and could potentially stop a repeat violent offender from offending again.
Boyle and Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, are co-sponsoring the bill to create a statewide registry.
The law is named for a Superior woman, 29-year-old Leah Gustafson, who was murdered by a neighbor with a long history of violent offenses two years ago.
Jason Richard Borelli, 33, was convicted of the murder in 2006.
The hearing was postponed so the family could attend a hearing in Superior for Borelli, said Mary Lou Kelleher, a spokeswoman for Boyle
A scheduling conference has been set for Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court to set a hearing date to consider a petition for a new trial in Borelli’s case.
Attorney James Rebholz of Wauwatosa cites ineffective legal counsel as the reason for seeking a new trial on Borelli’s behalf, a common claim made by defendants convicted of murder. The defense lacked forensic support, was unreasonably inconsistent with evidence Borelli was intoxicated with both alcohol and crack cocaine at the time of the murder, and there was no support for conviction of a lesser degree in connection with the crime, the motion contends.
“There was ample evidence of Borelli’s reckless intoxication and relevant psycho-social history to support the lesser-included defense of first degree reckless homicide,” Rebholz wrote in the Jan. 3 motion seeking a new trial. “Failure to seek submission of first-degree reckless homicide to the jury was not harmless given Borelli’s forensically diagnosed ‘impulsivity’ and given the lack of any reasonable support for the lesser-included offense submitted.”
Borelli is also seeking to have his life sentence without parole — a sentence his attorney calls “harsh and excessive” — amended.
Borelli had an extensive criminal record that included other incidents of violence against women, and violence against women he didn’t know prior to the 2006 homicide. That prompted friends and family of Leah Gustafson to seek legislation that would give people the tools to protect themselves against potentially violent neighbors.
Friends and family have said they believe if Gustafson had known about Borelli’s violent past, she would have been better prepared to protect herself.
A new date for the hearing concerning Leah’s Law has not been set.
Mayor Dave Ross, a strong advocate for the legislation, said he had been told the bill is unlikely to pass this year, regardless of the hearing delay.
Shelley Nelson can be reached at (715) 395-5022 or email@example.com.