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Senator Spilka’s bill passes Senate, would prevent accused killers from claiming victims’ bodies

August 6, 2013

Senator Spilka’s bill passes Senate, would prevent accused killers from claiming victims’ bodies

By Matt Murphy

State House News Service

Hoping to spare others from the heartache of having to fight for their loved one’s remains in court, the Senate passed legislation Monday that would change the laws regarding the release of a body to the next of kin.

Sen. Karen Spilka of Ashland and Rep. Kate Hogan of Stow filed legislation this session to prevent the medical examiner from releasing the body or remains of a deceased person to any next of kin, including a surviving spouse, who has been charged with or convicted of their murder.

The bill was filed as a reaction by lawmakers to the 2010 murder in Framingham of 19-year-old Heather Alleyne, whose husband Kyle was the next of kin and charged with Alleyne’s murder. Heather Alleyne’s family had to fight for over a month in court to gain legal rights to her body so that they could hold proper memorial services.

“To have to fight to get the remains or the body to lay that person to rest just isn’t fair,” Spilka said.

The bill would also prevent anyone charged in a death from becoming the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.

Since Alleyne’s murder, another case has cropped up in East Bridgewater that could be affected by the bill, Spilka said. Kim Parker died in her home last March, and though her husband, retired Boston firefighter Richard Parker, has not yet been charged with her murder, he is facing previous charges of kidnapping, assault to murder, assault with a knife, threat to commit a crime of murder and intimidation of a witness after Kim Parker testified against him before a grand jury before her death.

Spilka said Parker’s sister Stephanie Deeley, of Framingham, is fighting for the release of Kim’s ashes to the family. “If this bill gets passed and he’s charged, the remains would go to Stephanie and she could finally put her sister to rest, and that’s the impetus for this. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it adds torturous heartache to the process,” Spilka said.

The bill (S 1099) cleared the Senate Monday on a voice vote during a lightly attended informal session.

Spilka said she hopes the House acts quickly, citing no opposition to the bill during public hearings on it as a reason to move forward without hesitation. “We need to ensure no family goes through what Heather Alleyne’s family went through. That was horrible,” Spilka said.

Heather Alleyne’s mother, Ginny Marcheterre, has testified twice in favor of the bill, once in March 2011 and again in April of this year.

Hogan told the News Service in April that the bill stalled last session because supporters wanted to make sure the legal case against Alleyne was finalized before moving forward with legislation.

In February, Alleyne, 28, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Thomas Billings to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


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