LI legislator pushes for bill to prevent criminal defendants’ families from profiting off crimes
A Long Island lawmaker hopes a new bill could prevent criminal defendants' families from profiting off of their relative's crimes, which could impact the family of Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann.
The proposed changes would impact New York’s Son of Sam law, which prevents criminals from profiting off of selling their stories.
State Sen. Kevin Thomas proposed a bill to expand the law to include the family and former spouses of those charged with or convicted of a crime.
"What the Office of Victim Services would do is when they get a notification of a contract or profits of a crime, they contact the victims or their families, who would then file a lawsuit," said Thomas.
The motivation for the bill came after news spread of the million-dollar documentary deal taken by Asa Ellerup, the estranged wife of Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann.
John Ray, the attorney for the family of Shannan Gilbert, says the law is directed at her.
"The law clearly is proposed because of the Ellerup situation, because of what she's done,” he said. "It's designed to stop Ellerup from profiting on the dead."
The law was amended in 2001 after the U.S. Supreme Court found the original version unconstitutional in 1991.
Suffolk Crime Victims Center Executive Director Laura Ahearn says an amendment wouldn't do much.
"New York state's Son of Sam law doesn't really do much. It does a little bit, which is better than nothing. But an amendment to it doesn't make much sense because it's already doing very little anyway,” she said.
Ahearn says the original law needs to be amended to prevent actions like Ellerup's from happening.