Legislators introduce hate crime bills, honor of 2018 Jeffersontown Kroger shooting

Hate Crime gavel

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – State Senators Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville; Gerald Neal, D-Louisville; and Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, introduced hate crime legislation Friday to  honor Vickie Jones and Maurice Stallard, victims of the 2018 Jeffersontown Kroger shooting.

On October 24, 2018, a White gunman opened fire at a Kroger in Jeffersontown, Ky., fatally gunning down Jones and Stallard. The racially-motivated attack raised questions regarding hate crime laws and how someone with a history of mental illness, racist online posts, and domestic violence was able to carry out such an act.

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Senators McGarvey, Neal, and Raque Adams, joined by family members of Vickie Jones and Maurice Stallard and Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, announced they are introducing legislation ahead of the 2021 Session to strengthen hate crime laws and enhance protections for victims in Kentucky.

Bill Request 439 (BR 439) would extend prison time if it is proven that a crime is intentionally committed based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Under the proposal, a Class A or B misdemeanor would be increased by at least half of the maximum imprisonment sentence and fine that currently exist.  For a Class D felony, the term of imprisonment would be increased by one to five years. A Class C felony would be increased by five to ten years; and a Class A or B felony increased by ten to 20 years.

Additionally, if convicted, the individual would not be eligible for probation, shock probation, conditional discharge, parole, or any other form of early release. Sen. McGarvey expressed the need for legislation addressing hate crimes to help prevent these types of incidents.

“We are seeing a spike in these types of crimes across our country. This bill will hold perpetrators more accountable, enhance protections for victims, and hopefully help curb these crimes. No one deserves to be killed or targeted because of who they are. In introducing this bill, we do so remembering the lives of Vickie Jones and Maurice Stallard,” he said.

Sen. Gerald Neal said the need for this particular legislation is long overdue.

“The rise in hate crime cases across our nation is a cause of great concern. I have filed similar proposals in the past to address this issue, and now is the time for us to pass it. Let’s let Vickie and Maurice’s legacy be one that brings lasting change,” he said.

Kellie Watson, the daughter of Maurice Stallard, spoke on the need for stronger policy to protect victims of hate crimes.

“It has been stated that hate crimes have risen over the last few years. Hate crimes are particularly heinous because they are intended to cause fear, intimidation, and harm,” she said. The purpose of this legislation is to be just as intentional to prevent further hate crimes, have more accountability, and protect victims.”

BR 439 will be considered when the Kentucky General Assembly reconvenes for the 2021 Regular Session this January. For information, visit www.legislature.ky.gov.

Sen. McGarvey represents District 19, Sen. Neal represents District 33, and Sen. Raque Adams represents District 36, all of which include a portion of Jefferson County.