New life could be breathed into proposed legislation aimed at repealing certain protections in California that currently allow convicted murders originally sentenced as juveniles to life without the possibility of parole multiple opportunities to get out of prison.
AB 655, known as Erik’s Law, which previously died without a formal hearing in the state’s Public Safety Committee last year, is now scheduled to be heard before that same committee on Jan. 14, in Sacramento.
The bill, authored by Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, was named after Erik Ingebretsen, of Colusa, who was murdered by his childhood best friends in 1997.
Nathan Ramazzini, who admitted to being the mastermind behind Erik’s slaying, was sentenced to life without the possibility parole. But under Senate Bill 394, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, Ramazzini would be eligible for his first parole hearing in July 2021, after serving just 25 years in prison for the crime.
More than 500 people have signed a petition to keep Ramazzini behind bars for the rest of his life, with many people leaving comments asking the State Legislature for justice for Erik’s family, who are now forced to relive this event over and over again.
“Erik’s death was a terrible, gruesome, heartbreaking ordeal for his family, friends and our community,” commented Jerri Hoffman. “His killer was methodical and completely without remorse in the days following the murder, before the body was found. He deserves no more compassion than what he showed his friend, which was none. Support Erik’s Law, and keep psychopathic killers in jail where they belong.”
The petition is being circulated by Erik’s sister, Devin Lombardi, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the families of murder victims to see that SB 394 is amended to protect and uphold public safety from remorseless killers deemed “permanently incorrigible and irreparably corrupt,” something she said California’s current law does not do.
SB 394 was one of a host of new laws passed by a progressive California Legislature as part of an overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system, in response to overcrowded prisons.
Ralph Middleton, a relative of 8-year-old murder victim Madyson Middleton, also signed the Erik’s Law petition urging the state to keep teen killers in prison and away from society.
Adrian Gonzalez, a 15-year-old described as a sexual deviate that was remorseless when he allegedly admitted to luring Madyson to his apartment in 2015 before killing her and dumping her body in a recycle bin, has been at the root of a statewide legal battle over SB 1391, which bans juvenile offenders under 16 from the adult criminal justice system in California.
“Four years and (Gonzalez) has still not gone to trial,” Ralph Middleton said.
Gallagher’s bill, which is endorsed by Sen. Jim Nielsen, maintains that juvenile offenders should be rehabilitated when warranted, but that extremely violent and dangerous individuals should not be returned to the general public.
SB 394 is also facing a legal challenge by the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office, which contests it as unconstitutional because it repealed voter-approved Proposition 57 without a two-thirds required majority of the Assembly. SB 1391 is also being challenged in the courts for the same reason.
To view or sign Lombardi’s petition “Support for Assembly Bill 665, Erik’s Law,” visit ipetitions.com and insert “AB655” or “Erik Ingebretsen” into the search engine. ■