For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Butler (410) 841-3683
March 15, 2019
Laura & Reid’s Law Overwhelmingly Passes State Senate – Legislation Protects Expectant Mothers
Annapolis – Today Laura & Reid’s Law, Senate Bill 561, sponsored by Senator Justin Ready, (R-District 5), passed the Maryland State Senate by a vote of 46 - 1. Laura Wallen was a beloved teacher from Howard County who was murdered by her boyfriend, Tyler Tessier’s. Tessier was charged with first degree murder for Laura’s death, but since Reid was only 14 weeks in development and not yet viable outside the womb, the State’s Attorney was unable to charge him with Reid’s murder or any other crime associated with his loss.
"It seemed unconscionable to me that there was no recourse to charge Tessier beyond the murder charge for Laura Wallen," said Senator Ready. "As I worked with the Wallen Family, I learned that nationally one in ten pregnant women will experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. Homicide is the leading cause of pregnancy associated-death and African-American women younger than 25 years of age are most affected. Even worse, pregnancy-associated homicide in Maryland is 10 times the national average."
Senator Ready introduced SB 561 to give greater protection to these women. As amended, SB 561 makes a crime of violence against a woman the perpetrator knows is pregnant an additional felony with a jail sentence of up to 10 years in addition to any other sentence imposed for the original crime.
“When it became clear that Laura & Reid’s Law as originally drafted would not get a vote in the General Assembly, I worked with Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Bobby Zirkin and other legislators, as well as advocacy groups to streamline the bill so that all pregnant women would be able to receive this additional protection,” said Senator Justin Ready. "Laura & Reid's Law offers the access to justice these women and their families deserve.”
“As Mark Wallen, Laura’s father, recently highlighted, Laura was murdered by an intimate partner because she was pregnant. We should be doing all we can to make an assailant take pause before committing this heinous act.” concluded Senator Ready.
SB 561 will now move over to the House of Delegates. For more information and updates on this legislation, please visit https://www.facebook.com/LauraAndReidsLaw/?ref=settings