Petition draws thousands of signatures for tighter child killer sentences

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In the wake of the death of Victoria Martens, an online petition is asking New Mexico lawmakers to pass legislation that would send convicted child killers to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Omaree Varela, Ashlynne Mike and, now, Victoria Martens are just a fraction of the children killed in our state.

Like many, the death of Martens has dismayed and angered Albuquerque resident Stephen Judy.

“I could talk to anybody about this, their eyes start watering. Everybody’s affected by this,” he said. “We have to stand up for our children and the State of New Mexico and we’ve gotta do something to protect the kids.”

Which is why he decided to do something about it and create a petition online. The petition, calling for the “Victoria’s Martens Act,” targets the sentences convicted child killers receive in New Mexico.

It’s already garnered more than 3,400 signatures in just a few days.

“120 years mandatory with no possibility of parole or release for somebody that maliciously kills a child,” Judy said, explaining what the petition is asking for.

Henry Valdez of the New Mexico District Attorney’s Association said he believes as the law stands now, only people convicted of a killing a child who also committed kidnap or rape can be sentenced to life without parole.

Otherwise, a life sentence in New Mexico, by itself, means the chance of parole after 30 years.

While Judy says he’d prefer to the death penalty for child killers, he thinks his petition asks for the next best thing.

“We’ve got to send a message to everybody, throughout the whole state, that we’re not going to stand for this,” he said.

The last person to be executed in New Mexico was Terry Clark in 2001, who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 9-year-old Artesia girl.

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