After an emotional debate, three strikes legislation cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee on a 7-2 vote Saturday. Sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, the bill adds a number of violent crime felonies to the state’s existing “three strikes” law, which mandates life imprisonment for people who are convicted three times of certain felonies. The bill is known as “Lilly’s Law,” named after 4-year-old Lilly Garcia, who was shot and killed last fall during a road rage incident in Albuquerque. Lilly’s parents, Alan and Veronica Garcia, acted as expert witnesses for the bill. Pacheco acknowledged that penalties in his bill bill aren’t “perfectly matched” to the person who killed Lilly Garcia, whose previous crimes would not fall under the current or Pacheco’s expanded three strikes law.
Family of victims of recent high profile crimes stepped up their pressure on the Senate, particularly Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, to allow votes on several high profile crime bills already passed by the House of Representatives. Nicole Chavez, the mother of slain teen Jaydon Chavez-Silver, implored Sanchez to bring the bills to the floor and said that his job as a criminal defense attorney was to blame for him not doing so. “I just want to urge him and all the Senators that we put in office to please pull up these laws, pull up these bills, make a vote,” Chavez told media during a Thursday afternoon press conference. “It’s time for change.”
Chavez and the parents of slain child Lilly Garcia delivered their remarks in front of two poster boards. One said, “Who we’re fighting for” and showed pictures of victims. The other said, “Who Michael Sanchez is fighting for” and showed pictures of repeat offenders that Sanchez’s law firm represented.
Some lawmakers are raising questions about a House Republican placing the family of a high profile crime victim at the center of his bill. But the sponsor of the bill aimed at toughening the state’s three strikes law denies he is being anything but genuine. “I did not solicit them to testify,” state Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said. “They have been active ever since those incidents occurred.”
During a House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee meeting last week, Pacheco presented his three strikes legislation and presented Alan and Veronica Garcia, the parents of Lilly, a four-year-old who was shot and killed after a road rage incident. Some Republican legislators are calling the bill “Lilly’s Law.”
Tony Torrez, the man charged with killing Lilly, has a criminal past, but was never convicted of a violent offense that would have applied to either the state’s current three strikes law or the expanded list of crimes in Pacheco’s proposed expansion of that law.