Chelsea’s Law clears Assembly


A bill named after slain Poway teenager Chelsea King, which would toughen the penalties against sexually violent criminals, was passed unanimously Thursday by the state Assembly and is on its way to the Senate.

Assembly Bill 1844, authored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, calls for mandatory life sentences for forcible violent sex crimes against children. It would also tighten sex offense parole guidelines and require lifelong tracking of certain sex offenders.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has endorsed the bill, commended the Assembly vote.

“I applaud the Assembly for putting California’s children first and voting for Chelsea’s Law today,” Schwarzenegger said.

“My top priority is public safety, and this legislation will help protect our kids by creating harsher penalties for those that prey on children,” he said. “I look forward to the Senate quickly passing Chelsea’s Law so I can sign it.”

The law was proposed following the murder of 17-year-old Chelsea at a Rancho Bernardo Park. A registered sex offender, John Albert Gardner III, pleaded guilty last month to murdering Chelsea on Feb. 25 and 14-year-old Escondido High School freshman Amber Dubois on Feb. 13, 2009.

He was sentenced earlier this month to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 49 years.

Authorities said that before the murders, they missed many opportunities to return Gardner to prison for parole violations.