The killing of Tech CEO Pava LaPere prompted lawmakers to push to restrict early release credits for violent sex offenders

by MMC
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At a news conference in Baltimore on Tuesday, Ivan Bates, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney, said the new bill is “first and foremost about public safety.”

“If we cannot protect the public from the most egregious violent offenders in our society, then we have failed as public servants,” Bates said. “There can be no disagreement after seeing the tragedy that unfolded here in our city on September 22, 2023. This legislation is urgent and vital to the state of Maryland.”

The public defender’s office, which represents Billingsley, did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

The bill, called the Pava Marie LaPere Act, would require the Maryland Parole Board to approve early release.

“It’s a matter of discretion,” Del said. Elizabeth Embry, a sponsor of the bill who previously worked in the Maryland attorney general’s office. “This means that a person who has committed the most serious acts of sexual violence in our system – first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense – can only be released if the parole board agrees.

Embry added, “Unlike the credit reduction process, the parole board can hear from victims. The parole board can hear from victims’ families, people who cared about the crime victim. The parole board can review the person’s entire file. and a history of violence. So what this bill says is that if you need to be released early, if you’ve committed these horrible acts, that can’t just be done by calculating diminishment credits. This means the parole board must approve it. “.

Billingsley spent nine years and three months in prison for first-degree assault involving threat and force. Authorities said he held a woman at knifepoint while forcing her to have oral sex.

The Maryland Division of Parole and Probation told Business Insider that after nearly a year of mandatory supervision, Billingsley missed a treatment session on September 19. That same day, authorities identified Billingsley as the prime suspect in a case involving a couple being set on fire. in a west Baltimore rooming house and left to die. He was charged with rape and attempted murder.

The Baltimore City Police Department said it failed to notify the public about Billingsley as it attempted to capture him. Authorities said that three days later, LaPere, the CEO of EcoMap Technologies, was killed after let Billingsley into his buildingless than a kilometer from the rooming house, under the pretext that he had forgotten his keys.

Bates said the bill’s narrow focus on sexual offenses was due to LaPere’s father, Frank LaPere.

“I have a 7-year-old daughter,” Bates said. “I’ll never forget talking to him, watching him grow up. I thought about myself as a father, how I would feel. This one is a little different. It’s a little more personal at this regard.”

Lawmakers at the news conference said they didn’t know how many sex offenders in Maryland’s prisons would be affected if the bill becomes law, but Embry said about 10 to 15 people a year in the State are found guilty of the two highest levels of sex. infractions. She also described sexual assault as “under-reported and under-prosecuted”.

Frank LaPere joined lawmakers to announce the bill.

“Pava’s death is why this is happening,” LaPere said in an interview with Business Insider. “Attorney Bates and his team started a conversation with us about six weeks ago, but they had already prepared the bill.”

At the press conference, he fought back tears as he spoke about his only daughter. Describing Baltimore as a “hostage” victim, he called on Mayor Brandon Scott and Gov. Wes Moore to act.

“Mayor Scott, you emphatically stated on September 26 that he should never have been on the streets,” he said of Billingsley, adding: “Governor Moore emphatically stated on several occasions that the system had failed in Pava. It is time to change this system.”

LaPere said that “in some cases, shrink credits just don’t work.”

Billingsley is being held without bail and is due back in court March 4.

Correction: January 17, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misrepresented the charges in LaPere’s case. The suspect was charged with murder, but he was not charged with rape in this case.

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