Bill to be introduced for harsher hate crime punishments in Kentucky

Bill to be introduced for harsher hate crime punishments in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of the Kroger shooting in Jeffersontown where two shoppers, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, were killed. The man investigators say was behind the trigger, Gregory Bush, is accused of being racially driven to carry out the shooting.

Louisville state legislators are introducing a bill to call for stronger penalties for hate crimes.

“We never would’ve thought that her life would’ve been ended by a firearm,” Samuella Gathright, Vickie Jones' youngest sister, told WAVE 3 News.

The victims' families gathered Friday remembering who they lost.

“We miss my father every day. We missed holidays, birthdays,” Kellie Stallard–Watson, Maurice Stallard’s daughter, said.

Legislators who sponsored the bill, Democratic Senators Morgan McGarvey and Gerald Neal, as well as Republican Representative Julie Raque Adams, want to keep other families from feeling the same agony.

The senators worked with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to come up with a bill that would ensure the measures were practical and bring justice for victims.

If a suspect is convicted, time would be served for the original crime. They could face additional time behind bars if discrimination was found to be the motive, whether it’s based on gender, race, sexuality, or religion.

The victims' families say with the current law, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

"Everything that you see in this city and country, it makes me sad and tired, frustrated, overwhelmed,” Stallard–Watson said. “I’m hopeful this could be something different and this legislation could be the beginning of that.”

The proposed legislation would target the act of a hate crime by making the punishment more severe.

“This won’t bring Mr. Stallard and Ms. Jones back, but we can do our part to keep this from happening,” McGarvey said.

Gathright fought through tears to share what it’s like walking in their shoes and losing a sister who saw through the injustices of the compassionate city.

“My sister stayed right here because she loved Louisville Kentucky and believed in Louisville,” said Gathright. “You didn’t ask to be born the color that you are, the nationality. I didn’t ask to be born the nationality, but our heavenly father saw something in us to be born to the parents that we had. That’s all I’d like to say.”

Bush is still awaiting trial on his charges related to the shooting. He’s due back in court on Dec. 15.

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