It's been just over a year since a six-year-old was murdered in the Mohawk Valley. David Trebilcock is the man who stabbed Lauren Belius to death. He could serve as little as a year in a mental institution after a judge ruled he lacked criminal responsibility due to a mental disease. As our Katie Gibas reports, her mother, friends, family and lawmakers who don't even know Lauren Belius are pushing for legislation to make punishments longer for people who use the insanity defense.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Allison Belius still has to worry about the man who killed her six-year-old daughter, Lauren, last summer. That's because he's not in prison.
"It's hard to explain that to my kids. My daughter asks all the time where he is and if he's ever getting out. And I don't know how to answer her. I can't promise her that she won't have to see him again someday. Where had he gone to prison for 25 years, she would be able to get into her adult life, knowing that she's safe and he's not coming back. And I can't promise her that now," said Allison Belius, Lauren Belius' mother.
After testimony from a psychiatrist who diagnosed David Trebilcock with paranoid schizophrenia, Judge Michael Dwyer declared that Trebilcock lacked criminal responsibility for the murder due to a mental disease. That ruling sent him to a mental institution for as little as a year.
"All it takes is one different person to come into the mix and decide that he's okay and he's out and he can do it again. He already said he would," said Belius.
The Belius case is one of many that have led state leaders to push for legislation that comes with harsher punishments for people who harm children and for people who win the insanity defense. Bill S 5589, or Lauren Silvia's Law, if passed, would require those who are declared to lack criminal responsibility due to a mental disorder or defect to spend as long in a mental institution as they would spend in prison if convicted of the crime.
"There are a number of individuals now who commit these types of crimes and then say they're insane. Now I'm not a clinician, and I know there will be a clinical debate on this. But I also believe while they need treatment, there was a plan in place. So the individual can differentiate between right and wrong, and yet, perpetrated this horrific crime. So as a result of that, there needs to be punishment and a consequence in addition to the treatment," said Joseph Griffo, (R) Senate, Rome.
Belius added, "He's not going to get better. He's not going to change, and if he's mentally ill, then all the more reason he should be put away even longer because you can't cure that."
As for Belius and her family, the laws wouldn't affect their situation, but they'll keep fighting to get them passed to protect families in the future, and make sure her daughter didn't die in vain.
Senator Griffo says he will be pushing for this legislation once the Senate and Assembly are back in session in January.