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Slain teen’s parents call for new law in her name

Despite California’s enormous budget problems, the parents of a slain 17-year-old girl say that money has to be found to fund a proposed law that might have saved their daughter’s life.Nathan Fletcher, the state assemblyman who was to introduce “Chelsea’s Law” — named for Chelsea King, who disappeared on Feb. 25 while jogging in a park after school — agreed that the legislation is so
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Despite California’s enormous budget problems, the parents of a slain 17-year-old girl say that money has to be found to fund a proposed law that might have saved their daughter’s life.

Nathan Fletcher, the state assemblyman who was to introduce “Chelsea’s Law” — named for Chelsea King, who disappeared on Feb. 25 while jogging in a park after school — agreed that the legislation is so important that a way must be found to pay for it. “I think that we can find enough money to protect our children from sexually violent predators,” Fletcher told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Tuesday via satellite from Sacramento.

With Fletcher were Brent and Kelly King, the parents of Chelsea, a San Diego-area girl and dedicated runner whose body was found in a shallow grave in the park five days after she disappeared.

Police have arrested John Gardner, a 31-year-old convicted sex offender who lived in the area, and charged him with Chelsea’s rape and murder. Gardner has pleaded not guilty. He is also under investigation in connection with the murder a year earlier of 14-year-old Amber Dubois.

‘Holes’ in the system

The Kings feel let down by a legal system that allowed Gardner to roam free despite a 2000 conviction for molesting a 13-year-old girl. He served five years for that crime and was on parole for three more years. During his parole, he committed several offenses, including being in possession of marijuana, opening a MySpace account and living too close to a school. Any of them could have sent him back to prison until 2008, but he remained on probation.

“The system didn’t just let a few cracks occur. It let a few holes occur. He should have never been on the streets in our community, ever,” Brent King told Vieira.