Families of car crash victims join forces on Amelia’s Law

Moore, Keown and Hall met with State Sen. Doug Overbey Thursday.
Moore, Keown and Hall met with State Sen. Doug Overbey Thursday.

ALCOA (WATE) – The mother and grandfather of a Maryville teen killed in car accident continued their crusade Thursday for Amelia’s Law.

It’s a proposal that would keep convicted felons in jail longer.

Amelia Keown was hit head-on August 14th by John Perkins, a felon who was paroled early from prison.

“This was his fifth wreck in nine months,” said Amelia’s mother, Amanda Moore.

Moore and her father, Wayne Keown, met with State Sen. Doug Overbey at a coffee shop in Alcoa Thursday.

They hope that Sen. Overbey, a leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee, can help steer a truth-in-sentencing type bill through the legislature.

John Perkins, the man who killed Amelia, had served only four years of a 12-year sentence when he hit the 16-year-old on Highway 411 in Maryville. Perkins also died in the wreck.

“He had no reason to stop what he was doing because nothing was ever done to him,” said Moore.

From 200 pages of court and parole records, Moore showed Sen. Overbey that Perkins was on five different probation charges and continued his wave of crime without ever being sent back to jail while on parole.

They hope Amelia’s Law could be written in way that would strengthen parole procedures and rules.

“This man was clearly a repeat offender, a habitual offender,” said Wayne Keown. “Yet the Tennessee parole board saw fit to turn him out loose on our streets.”

Moore and her father also met with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in Nashville. As leader of the senate, Ramsey guides legislation through the process.

While he couldn’t promise anything, he did encourage the two to continue with their efforts pushing for tougher parole rules.

On Thursday, Sen. Overbey agreed something needs to be done.

“What I want to do is take this story back and discuss is with the lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, the commissioner of the department of safety, Bill Gibbons, and with the governor’s office and come together to strengthen Tennessee’s sentencing laws,” said Overbey.

“We want someone to take this information back,” said Moore. “We want someone to review it with all the people who can review it and to tell us what can be changed.”

Moore and Keown are determined to get a proposal before both houses of the legislature by the next session.

The father of a local publisher from Madisonville is now joining them in their fight.

Dan Hall was hit head-on on Highway 411 on Monday.

Troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the other driver, Nicholas Steffa, 42, may have been impaired and has a history of DUI.

At the Keown’s meeting Thursday, Dan Hall’s father, Wes, told Sen. Overbey that Steffa should not have been on the road, but behind bars.

“His alcohol-related offenses go back to 1995, probation after probation, just like this,” said Wes Hall.

Steffa was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where he remained in stable condition Thursday night.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said they are doing a toxicology test to determine if Steffa was impaired.

Those results will not be available for another six to eight weeks.

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