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Messmer's bill expanding victims’ rights passes Senate

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 2, 2021) – A bill authored by State Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) that would allow Hoosiers to request the re-opening of a death investigation today passed the Senate unanimously.

Senate Bill 177 would permit the immediate family of a deceased individual to request a new investigation by the Indiana State Police (ISP) into the cause of death of their relative. The ISP would not be required to open a new investigation, but would be obligated to review the request.

Messmer authored this legislation after meeting with the family of Kristy Kelley, a constituent of Senate District 48, who went missing and was later found deceased weeks later, having been submerged inside her car in a pond. Local law enforcement ruled Kelley's death an accident, but her family had many questions, including why her car was in Park and what caused the extensive damage to her vehicle before entering the water.

“The circumstances that brought about this bill are incredibly tragic and it's important we assist families like Kristy's in determining what exactly happened to their loved one," Messmer said.

This legislation specifies that the families must meet reasonable suspicion standards by providing relevant facts and instances drawn from those facts in order to request the re-opening of an investigation.

SB 177 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.