LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Marsy’s Law, designed to give crime victims the same constitutionally protected rights as the accused and convicted passed in Kentucky with 63 percent of the votes Tuesday night.
Krista Gwynn said she wasn’t surprised by the news. She hopes one-day Marsy’s Law will help her heal.
Gwynn’s son, Christian Gwynn, was shot and killed last December at 19-years-old. Almost a year has passed, and his family still doesn’t know who pulled the trigger.
“My son got around 43rd and Market and a car came past, rolled down the window and shot my son, took my son’s life,” Gwynn said. Mistaken identity or whatever the case may be, someone pulled a gun out and shot my son and took my whole world away."
The tragedy has turned Gwynn into a crime victims' advocate, helping other families heal. now have the Marsy’s Law on their side thanks to Kentucky voters.
Marsy’s Law grants crime victims certain rights protected under the state’s constitution, including the right to be treated fairly, the right to confer with the prosecution, the right to attend key court proceedings, and restitution.
The law was named after a California woman killed by her ex-boyfriend,
“These young kids, once you pull that gun out and shoot that bullet you can’t pull it back, and once they lock you up, I feel like the people you’ve harmed should be notified if you’re getting out; if they move you from one facility to another, you should be notified,” Gwynn said.
However, WAVE 3 News' legal expert, Leland Hulbert says Marsy’s Law also has its downfalls.
“Kentucky can still pass specific statutes that interpret this law, but it likely is going to make the victims' rights more expansive,” Hulbert said. “The issue is, well what’s a victim?”
Hulbert told WAVE 3 News a victim can range from a person involved in a no insurance case or a DUI to “obvious” victims involved in murder, assault, and rape. It would be up to the state and/or judge to determine who falls into the victim category at the beginning stages of the case.
Some critics say forcing the court to establish a victim early on could be argued as going against the defendant’s presumption of innocence.
Many have maintained Kentucky already has laws in place to protect crime victims according to Hulbert.
Marsy’s Law promises to help support victims and give them more rights, but critics have argued it fails to provide details on how to accomplish that.
Hulbert told WAVE 3 News there are no funding sources provided within the language of the law or available to help provide support for victims.
Gwynn said Kentucky needs more funding in order to make Marsy’s Law successful. She told WAVE 3 News she is hopeful it could help heal the hundreds of crime victims in Louisville and across the state, herself included.
“We want these families to know, yeah, you’re hurting, and you’ll spend the holidays without your loved one, but somebody that doesn’t know you loves you. It’s hard because my son loved Thanksgiving. My son’s birthday is on Thanksgiving and I’ll never see him again,” Gwynn said.
To read more about why advocates support Marsy’s Law, click here.
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