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Victim's Mother Ask For Registry Changes

September 13, 2006

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The mother of one of the two men allegedly killed last Easter by a Canadian who sought out sex offenders on the Internet was among those asking Maine legislators on Tuesday to change the state's sex-offender registry. 

Shirley Turner of Hartland choked back tears as she spoke Tuesday morning to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in Augusta. She's the mother of William Elliott, who police said was shot to death at his home by a man who later committed suicide. 

Turner said her son didn't belong on the list, because he was not a dangerous pedophile. She said he was 19 when he had consensual sex with his girlfriend two weeks before her 16th birthday. 

"Changing this law, I hope, will save lives. It might have saved my son's if it would have been done before," Turner said. 

She was joined by others who are listed on Maine's registry or have relatives listed. They said Maine's system makes no distinction between people with offenses such as Elliott's and dangerous pedophiles. 

Steve Perry, whose son is on the registry, told the committee on Tuesday, 

"I know two people in Windham -- lied to by girls about their ages -- and these girls are having sex with other people right now while the men are in prison, and one is my son. And I'm scared to death that what happened to this poor woman's son is going to happen to my son." 

James Mitchell is a lawyer who represents a man who's challenging the constitutionality of Maine's registry law. He told the committee that Maine's registry needs to be refined so it shows who's dangerous. Mitchell agrees with those who say it imposes extra punishment on some offenders. 

Sen. Bill Diamond said the committee should have a list of recommended changes to the registry within the next month. Then it will be up to the full Legislature to decide on which changes to adopt. 

Diamond said the registry is federally mandated, so lawmakers cannot simply do away with it.

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