Chelsea's Law may expand to other states

SAN DIEGO - The father of slain Poway High School senior Chelsea King and an ex-assemblyman announced Friday an effort to spread components of California's Chelsea's Law to five other states.

Brent King, the father of Chelsea King, and Nathan Fletcher want to take the heart of the law, imprisoning for life those who commit certain violent sexual crimes against children, to states that don't have such stiff punishment.

King has formed a nonprofit, Chelsea's Shield, to lead the legislative effort.

Legislation has been introduced in Illinois and Texas, and could be introduced in Ohio next week, said Robin Liszewski of the Chelsea's Light Foundation. Efforts are also being mounted in Massachusetts and Utah, she said.

Chelsea King, 17, was murdered in 2010 by a convicted sex offender, who later admitted to killing a second girl, Amber Dubois of Escondido, one year earlier.

"We chose the bellwether states, we chose states the rest of the country follows," King said. "So California is the first one, everybody pays attention to Texas, Illinois -- that's our home state right now, and Ohio is one that was begging us to come there."

He said he wants to eventually take the legislation to all 50 states.

Fletcher, who authored Chelsea's Law while in the Legislature, said it appears to be working to lengthen sentences for "the worst of the worst" offenders.

"Implementation, enforcement are what really matter," said Fletcher, who now works for Qualcomm.

They released a report on the impact of Chelsea's Law. The study found that between September 2011 and August 2012, 22 defendants were charged under provisions of Chelsea's Law in San Diego County. The eight cases that have been resolved resulted in longer prison sentences than there would be have been before the law was enacted, the report said.

Brent and his wife, Kelly, are in San Diego for the annual Finish Chelsea's Run 5K, scheduled for Saturday morning along the streets and neighborhoods on the west side of Balboa Park. They said around 6,000 people have signed up.

Meanwhile, within the next two months, Caltrans will install freeway signs along the Interstate 15 Lake Hodges Bridge to honor Chelsea.

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