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When my sister was murdered in 2003, she was killed by an intentionally set house fire. The women who murdered my sister received a 25-year sentence for killing her. They also received 25 years for burning her house.
The sentences would be served at the same time and they would only have to serve about 85 percent of the sentence. In other words, they would only have to serve a little more than 21 years for killing my sister and burning her house. They were not eligible for the death penalty because arson was not considered a weapon used in a violent crime.
I believe fire is the most vicious, cruelest weapon anyone could use to murder someone.
Even though I am not an advocate for the death penalty, we felt like we needed that leverage in getting a long enough sentence for these women who committed the murder.
I was challenged to change the law if I did not agree with it. I had no idea what to do to change a law so I started with Greg Gregory, who was at that time our district’s senator.
Greg did not know me and I did not know him personally. He was very receptive to my request and listened closely to all the details. I explained to him that I did not want the death penalty for these women, but I hoped that it would help another family with bargaining powers if they were in the same situation as we had been. He took notes and did some research.
On Sept. 22, 2004, I received a letter from Greg that said he had drafted a bill to include arson with intent to kill as criteria for the death penalty. In November of 2004, Greg was re-elected as our district’s senator.
The bill was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee as Bill S.134 on Jan. 11, 2005. Bill S.134 was referred to a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 10, 2005.
Greg contacted the chairman of that subcommittee to request that they discuss it at their next meeting. He also kept me informed when this meeting was to take place.
On Feb. 15, 2006, Greg had me speak at this subcommittee meeting. He had “gotten me in the door” to tell my story and why I wanted the law changed.
After this meeting the bill was sent to the full Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Greg was a member.
Greg had me attend the Judiciary Committee meeting on March 1, 2006. He presented the bill to the committee and Bill S.134 passed through this committee. The bill was then sent to the Senate floor for three readings.
It passed and was sent to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for review. Greg kept me informed every step of the way during these readings. He also advised me what to do to prepare for the House of Representatives.
The term for the General Assembly ended and the bill was reintroduced as Bill S.246 and then after some time elapsed, it was renamed Bill S.370.
After going through some of the same processes in the House of Representative and with Rep. Jimmy Neal, Bill S.370 passed through all readings on June 7, 2007.
It was ratified on June 12, 2007, and signed by the governor on June 18, 2007. Could I have done this without the help of Greg Gregory? Absolutely not. Greg knew how to write the bill and had all the contacts in the Senate and the House of Representatives because of his years of service as our district’s senator.
During the recent political debates of various issues, I wondered how I would have been able to get what I call “Pat’s Law” introduced, much less passed, if we had not had a senator with experience.
In the debate, the other four Republican candidates were pushing for term limits for our legislators.
I understand why term limits would be beneficial for some legislators, but why would you want to eliminate a person who has been doing an excellent job?
Why would you eliminate a person who has been serving our district for those years and has the contacts in the S.C. General Assembly that are necessary to accomplish items our people need and want? Let the people vote.
If you think someone is not doing well in the job, you should vote for someone else. Greg Gregory has served our district well and I would not want a term limit to keep him from being able to serve us.
In my mind, Greg Gregory is the right person for the job.
Libby Morris is a
Lancaster County resident.