Paul D. Cramm

Bill to look at timely notification for crime victims and families

After the state decided to release the man from jail into a work release program, who killed her son, Avis Crosby had only one business day to protest the decision.

A Wichita schoolteacher, Crosby said, “I (got) this letter the Thursday before Labor Day (saying that) he was supposed to be released the day after Labor Day. That just really wasn’t enough time to do anything. I started calling the number that was listed, and people were gone, out of town for the holiday weekend, so I was just really frustrated”.

The man convicted of killing her son and a cousin while driving under the influence of alcohol was transferred from the Winfield Correctional Facility to work release almost 2 weeks later, but he was sent to Hutchinson rather than Wichita, where Crosby scared that she might encounter the man someday so, she contacted her state senator who was able to reach some top corrections officials.

Crosby said, “He’s out a whole year early at work release in Hutchinson, and I just felt like if we had more time before that decision was made, maybe something would have been able to be done about that”.

Crosby did not succeed in keeping the man in jail but her struggle will lead to state law requiring corrections officials to give timely notice to the victims and their families prior to an offender who harmed them is released from state custody or moved to work release.

The bill is pre-filled by the State Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, for the upcoming legislative session to require that whenever possible, victims find out at least fourteen days prior to the offender’s release. In January, the legislative session will start. She said that a notice like the one Crosby got “is not giving enough time to appeal or do or say anything”. According to her, she worked with the Corrections Department to create the bill and department officials will give evidence in favor of it when it comes up for hearing at the Capitol.

It was confirmed by the Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay that the department worked with Faust-Goudeau on the bill in an attempt to protect the rights of crime victims while not excessively burdening system of prison. He said, “We think we have that bill”.

Crosby said that she will also go to Topeka to give proof. She already tells her family’s story once a month at classes that driving under the influence offenders are required to attend as part of their sentences. Crosby’s son, 21-year-old Adrian, and a cousin, 21-year-old Dominique Green, were killed due to a driver who was driving under the influence. The incident occurred in 2006.

Adrian Crosby was in Navy and Green was studying criminal justice. They both were on leave and they had gone to Hutchinson with their girlfriends for an early celebration of Adrian Crosby’s birthday. He would have turned 22 the day after they were killed. They were coming home on K-96 when the vehicle of Robert Silhan, a former Sterling College football player, collided with their vehicle head-on while driving the wrong way on the freeway.

Court records show that Silhan’s BAC level was 0.17 percent almost double the legal limit of driving which is 0.08 percent.

25 year old Silhan pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He was also convicted of two counts of reckless aggravated battery related to the girlfriends. Both girls travelling in the vehicle suffered life-threatening injuries but survived the accident. He submitted 32 letters of reference asking for a light sentence.

The judge sentenced Silhan to 82 months in prison.

Silhan was unable to convince a court to decrease his sentence or to permit him to revoke his guilty plea and confession in two separate appeals. According to the state records, his earliest possible release date is 4th of August 2014.

Director of victim services for the Department of Corrections, Audrey Cress, said victims who register for notification ordinarily get 2 notices prior to the release of an offender, one nine months in advance and another a month before. According to her, sometimes her unit doesn’t get timely notice if something changes like decrease in the sentence.

On Monday, Cress was contacted while on vacation and said that without being able to see the records, she couldn’t recall why Crosby had gotten her notice so late but she said that her office has been working to have more checks in place to keep crime victims informed when changes occur in the system. She said, “We absolutely do try the best we can to get people notified.”

According to Barclay, Crosby’s case was “kind of an anomaly”. He also said, “But sometimes the anomalies point out something that you want to do for the future”.

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About the Author

This practice has been exclusively devoted to all levels of criminal defense from misdemeanor offenses in municipal court to felony matters in the Federal courts of Kansas and the Western District of Missouri. Paul D. Cramm is qualified to provide defense in Capital and Death Penalty cases.