SB 636 - This act creates the crime of aggravated child kidnapping. A person, who is not a relative of the victim, commits such crime when he or she, after deliberating the matter, kidnaps a child under the age or eighteen and also commits certain sexual acts involving certain penetration or intercourse with the child. This crime is a felony punishable by either death or life imprisonment without the probation, parole, or release, unless the offender has not yet reached the age of sixteen, in which case, the punishment shall only be life imprisonment without probation, parole, or release.
This act treats the crime of aggravated child kidnapping in the same manner as first degree murder. With limited exceptions, no aggravated child kidnapping offense may be tried together with any offense other than aggravated child kidnapping. At any such trial, when the death penalty has not been waived, opposing counsel shall provide each other with certain information, such as a list of witnesses and a list of mitigating or aggravating circumstances that the counsel intends to prove at the second stage of the bifurcated trial.
For aggravated child kidnapping, the trial shall be bifurcated into two stages unless there has been a waiver of the death penalty. The first stage shall determine only whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. The issue of punishment shall only be submitted to the trier of fact at the second stage of the trial after a finding of guilt. If the trier of fact finds the defendant guilty of such offense, evidence of mitigating and aggravating circumstances may be presented during the second stage of the trial. This act lists what types of circumstances which may be presented as evidence.
This act provides the procedural requirements for such trials and the necessary conclusions that must be made by the trier of fact to impose the death penalty. It also requires the judge to include certain considerations and information in the jury instructions when the jury is deciding whether to impose the death penalty.
Before trial, any defendant in an aggravated child kidnapping case may waive the right to trial by jury. However, such waiver must be made for both stages of the trial unless there is an agreement with the state. Upon written agreement of the parties and with leave of the court, the issue of the defendant's mental retardation may be taken up by the court and decided prior to trial without prejudicing the defendant's right to have the issue submitted to the trier of fact.
As with persons who are found guilty of or plead guilty to murder in the first degree, if the death penalty is found to be unconstitutional in the future, those persons who are found guilty of or plead guilty to aggravated child kidnapping shall be sentenced to life imprisonment with probation, parole, or release.
SUSAN HENDERSON MOORE