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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: May 9, 2007

Sen. James Williamson
Senator Jim Reynolds

Taylor’s Law will allow Mother to Honor Son in Court

LaDonna Heintzelman wanted the right to wear a button with her son’s picture during the trial of the man accused of his murder. State Sen. Jim Reynolds said the Midwest City mother will have that right. That’s after Senate Bill 868, known as “Taylor’s Law” was signed by Gov. Brad Henry on Wednesday. The bill was named for Heintzelman’s son.

“When I heard LaDonna’s story, I immediately wanted to help. She simply wants to be able to honor her son with a photo of how he was in life,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “This is an important day for victim’s rights and for Taylor’s family.”

SB 868 would require courts to allow immediate family members of a murder victim to wear photo buttons. Those buttons could be up to four inches in diameter. Reynolds said as the result of a case out of California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of allowing families to wear such buttons in court. Reynolds said this was likely the first such law to be passed since that ruling.

Heintzelman said she was thrilled to learn that the bill had made it all the way through the legislative process and had been signed into law. Heintzelman said she wanted her son to be remembered as the smiling, funny person he was.

“The defendant is not going to look the way he did the day he committed the crime when we’re in trial. He has the opportunity to make eye-contact with the jury, to be in a clean suit, to have a fresh hair cut. My child doesn’t have that. He’s only portrayed in the trial through crime scene photos, and that’s not fair. It’s a huge injustice to him, and we just want to equal the scales a little bit.”

Heintzelman said she was very thankful that Sen. Reynolds had written Taylor’s Law, along with Rep. Sue Tibbs, co-author of the measure, and thanked Gov. Henry for signing it. The trial for her son’s accused killer is scheduled to begin next month.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how happy that makes me just to know that I can have Taylor on my shoulder, very close to my heart—he’s always in my heart,” said Heintzelman, adding it was wonderful that she would be able to represent him the way she remembered him—with a smile.

For more information contact:

Senator Williamson's Office: (405) 521-5624

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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