Lawmaker Pushes Bill To Get Tough On Stalkers
A horrific murder case with Huntsville ties is inspiring one state lawmaker to get tough on stalkers and the laws that govern them.
House Bill 75, better known as “Tracy’s Law”, will be waiting for state legislators when they return to Montgomery later this week. State Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R) of Capshaw is sponsoring the bill, which is named after murder victim Tracy Morris.
Morris was brutally raped and murdered by her alleged stalker in 1999. Prosecutors said the Huntsville nurse received flowers, cards, candy and other unwelcome advances from Jason Sharp, the suspect who is accused of killing Morris. Family members told WHNT News 19 that Tracy Morris received the unwanted gifts and letters for more than a year before her death.
“Once a case gets to the point of stalking, it’s a serious, serious situation,” said Rep. McCutcheon, who filed the bill last year as well. “If there would’ve been a law back then, it [Morris’ case] would’ve been investigated and possibly have stopped it.”
McCutcheon calls current state guidelines on stalking insufficiently weak, saying they allow potential predators to indirectly contact victims without fear of serious consequence. McCutcheon said Tracy’s Law would widen the boundaries of what constitutes stalking, while also stiffening penalties for stalkers who repeatedly harass their victims. Repeat offenders would be classified as felons under the law, which would also change wording on what constitutes victim harassment. Law enforcement currently is guided by the phrase “credible threat”, but McCutcheon says the law would change the wording to “any threat” reported by a victim.
“It’s just going to give investigators and the court system another tool to work with,” said McCutcheon. “They can identify the serious cases that need to be addressed before injury, harm or even death comes to a victim.”
State House members unanimously passed Tracy’s Law last year, but the bill died in the Senate after getting stuck behind other legislation also waiting for a vote. McCutcheon said the bill had a much better chance of being signed into this law this year due to its pre-filed status.
Jason Sharp was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Tracy Morris, but his conviction was overturned by a judge last year due to a technicality. Prosecutors have appealed the judge’s ruling to hold a new trial. A final ruling on the appeal has not been made.