Twelve years after a tragic East Lansing crime went unpunished, Michigan elected officials want to reform a key law. Before the end of the year, Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign “Brandon D’Annunzio’s Law.” The 24 year old was attacked in downtown East Lansing in 2000 and later died of his injuries. WKAR’s Mark Bashore spoke with the young man’s mother about her efforts to get the measure passed.
MARK BASHORE: The law would extend the statute of limitations for manslaughter and several other crimes from 10-years to 20-years, effectively eliminating the factor that spared the attacker. Shawn D’Annunzio tells me the likely success of their campaign means they will not pursue a civil suit. She says Senator Rick Jones played a key role in the legislation.
SHAWN D’ANNUNZIO: When Prosecutor Dunnings was not able to prosecute, Senator Jones’ office was aware of what was happening. And he decided that the law needed to be changed because this was unjust what had happened to Brandon. So he was the one who sponsored the bill in the first place. Senator Jones will be the one who takes responsibility for getting it passed.
BASHORE: In the past, you’ve said you want to meet your son’s attacker. Do you still feel that way?
D’ANNUNZIO: Yes, very much so.
BASHORE: To what end? What would you want to transpire exactly?
D’ANNUNZIO: I’d like a face-to-face meeting with him and I would like to give him the opportunity to say ‘I’m sorry.’ And I would also like to have the opportunity to let him know that not only did one life get lost in the process, but he’s affected my whole family and his friends and a lot more people than I think he realizes. I don’t think he realizes how important that is and how severe it is. I’d like that opportunity to let him know.
BASHORE: How much do you know about him?
D’ANNUNZIO: I know that he’s not a very good person. I know that he’s not a very motivated person so therefore he obviously doesn’t have a conscience. And because of that, I feel that he wasn’t raised the way he should have been raised. Because if he would have been raised properly, he would have come forward and not been able to live with it.. But obviously a person who knows they killed someone and gets up every day and goes to work or doesn’t go to work and lives with that, and is capable of doing that, is not the type of person that I would want to be affiliated with.
BASHORE: I assume he has an attorney. Have you had any contact with that person?
D’ANNUNZIO: Prosecutor Dunnings has had contact with his lawyer because it was asked if I could meet with him. And the lawyer responded back through him saying that I was welcome to send a letter to him and that he would read the letter. But I chose not to do that because I feel that, by the person I’ve heard that he is, and by the way he’s acted, I really don’t feel that he would read the letter. I think he would throw the letter (away). And everything that I wrote down would be not even read. So why bother?
BASHORE: I’m curious about how the entire process that followed Brandon’s death has changed you. What would you say to people who feel that laws need changing?
D’ANNUNZIO: I always said that I would like to be part of a law that changes for the better and for the good of people not because of a tragedy, which unfortunately seems to the case in so many changes of law. But I had no choice in the matter but to be involved in this one. But I would like to be involved in some changes of some of the laws that I feel strongly about without having to have a tragedy before then.
BASHORE: Having the foresight to do that.
D’ANNUNZIO: Exactly. Exactly. I think that it’s up to the people and it seems like the government has taken too much control. And by going through this process, I’ve realized that we do have a say. And even though they have the final decision, it’s up to us to open up and let them know how we feel in order to get the laws changed for the peoples’ favor. So that in itself makes me feel good.
BASHORE: I assume you’ll be at the Governor’s desk when he signs the bill?
D’ANNUNZIO: Oh yeah. Definitely. And he’ll probably get a big hug, too.
BASHORE: What do you expect that will be like to see that signature go on that bill?
D’ANNUNZIO: To see my son’s name on that bill and to know that I’ve worked so hard and had to tell his story so many times to so many people….that there’s going to be justification….is going to be very overwhelming for me.