FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2001
AUSTIN, TX--Today the Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 1453 by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, that will require persons convicted of injury to a child, an elderly individual or a disabled person to remain in jail while they appeal their cases.
Last session, Sen. Lucio passed Senate Bill 306, which rescinded the eligibility of a defendant convicted of 3g crimes (murder, capital murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnaping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery) to obtain bail pending an appeal.
SB 306 was part of a legislative package Sen. Lucio passed in honor of Maggie Dittman, the two-year-old child who was killed by her babysitter in 1998. Alma Quintanilla shook Maggie to death, was convicted of reckless injury to a child and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Immediately following the trial, she posted an appellate bond allowing her to be released until her case was reviewed and has not yet served any of her sentence.
Maggie was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome, a serious brain injury that occurs when someone shakes a child violently. Shaking a child can cause blindness, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, seizures and death. It is estimated that 1,000 to 3,000 children are diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome each year, resulting in a 15 to 30 percent death rate among them.
"Injury to a child is a grave offense," said Sen. Lucio. "We need to make sure that someone convicted of such a crime not be allowed to harm anyone else. We want to end potentially dangerous situations in which someone convicted of committing one of these heinous crimes could walk the streets freely while awaiting an appeal."
Note: Staff member handling legislation is Ms. Cristina Nelson, legislative aide.