As the state Supreme Court decides whether a convicted killer must attend his own sentencing, Assembly Republicans Anthony M. Bucco and BettyLou DeCroce have introduced legislation that would clarify the rights of crime victims to face their assailants at sentencing.
Guiseppe Tedesco, convicted of killing Alyssa Ruggieri in her Hopatcong home in 2010, is attempting to waive to his right to appear at his sentencing. The state Supreme Court heard arguments this week and is expected to decide the matter in the fall.
“Alyssa had no choice whether to face Tedesco. He doesn’t deserve a choice now whether to face those who are grieving her loss,” Bucco, R-Morris and Somerset, said. “Those who have been convicted of an egregious crime against humanity cannot dictate to the courts, or those they have victimized, how they will receive their punishment. This is making a mockery of our justice system.”
The proposal, A-4118, would amend the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights to strengthen victims’ rights to make an in-person statement directly to the court and the offender at sentencing.
“Crime victims will always feel the pain, loss and suffering caused by crime. They deserve the opportunity to confront those who harmed them before justice is served,” DeCroce, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic, said. “It’s mind boggling to think that the Supreme Court has to even consider whether a convicted murderer has to appear in court for his sentencing. The last words a violent criminal should hear before being locked up should be from the friends and families left behind.”
DeCroce and Bucco urged the Supreme Court to side with crime victims and said they would fight to change the law to make sure this situation never arises again.
“Crime victims who have suffered a horrendous loss should decide for themselves whether addressing their assailant will help their grieving process,” Bucco said. “We hope the Supreme Court will use common sense and side with the Ruggiero family in this case. Meanwhile, we must change the law to make sure the courts never have to consider a case like this again.”
“The question of whether a criminal should have to sit for a sentencing should never be asked again,” added DeCroce. “We will support the Ruggieros and any other family victimized by crime and will fight to make sure the legal process remains open and compassionate to victims.”