By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A state lawmaker from Sand Springs wants repeat child molesters to face the death penalty. Representative Rex Duncan plans to introduce legislation that would allow the death penalty for sentencing if someone is convicted of a sex crime involving children more than once. The announcement comes on the heels of the arrest of Marcus Berry, Senior, a two-time sex offender who avoided jail time despite being accused of failing to register.
Laws enforcement officials say a loophole in state law saved Marcus Berry,Senior, from going to jail for failing to register as a sex offender. And, it looks like that loophole is about to close.
Marcus Berry, Senior, was taken into custody after two eagle-eyed Tulsa Police officers found his truck in a field. Inside, they found Berry and a partially clothed two-year-old girl. It's not the first time he's been accused of a sex crime against a child.
He served five years in the late 1980's, then another 13 years of a 30 year sentence in the 1990's for molesting a child. After getting out of prison he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender, but citing an appeals court ruling, Berry claimed he was homeless and a jury found him not guilty.
A year later, he was charged with failing to register again and used the same defense.
That time Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris decided not to fight the homeless defense and agreed to a two year probation.
"To say that I'm transient and that I'm really not living anywhere and so therefore you can't charge me for failing to register, I think is a bogus defense," said Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris.
So why did the appeals court support the homeless defense?
The Tulsa County Public Defender's Office says it's because in the original case the defendant was accused of failing to register an address, so if you're homeless and don't have an address you can't conform to the requirements.
But, a new law makes that obsolete.
Beginning on November 1st, if a sex offender can't provide an address they have to report to law enforcement once a week to let them know where they will be staying.
Randy Lopp of the Oklahoma Coalition for Sex Offender Management says the sex offender registration laws actually do more harm than good. He says they prevent sex offenders from recovering and getting stability in their lives.
"We've got to figure out ways to help them find stable living so that they can register, so they can be in compliance," said Randy Lopp with the Oklahoma Coalition for Sex Offender Management.
Marcus Berry, Senior, has been charged with kidnapping and lewd molestation, both carry up to a life sentence.