Crash victim's family meets with lieutenant governor in Nashville
By Wes Wade | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The family of Amelia Keown, the 16-year-old William Blount junior killed in a two-vehicle accident Aug. 14, said they’re hopeful about a proposed law change they’ve undertaken in the wake of Keown’s death.
Amanda Moore and Wayne Keown, Amelia Keown’s mother and grandfather, are pushing what they’ve dubbed “Amelia’s Law,” which would be similar to the “three strikes” law. They hope it will keep repeat felons behind bars, specifically those who have shown to pose a threat to the public. They currently have around 10,000 signatures total, including both online and paper signatures. The two said after meeting with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in Nashville on Wednesday, they feel they’re moving in the right direction.
Amelia Keown was killed instantly Aug. 14 in a two-vehicle crash with 44-year-old Maryville resident John Charles Perkins. Shortly after the accident, Moore and Wayne Keown discovered that not only did Perkins have an extensive criminal history, but he was still on parole.
Perkins had a lengthy history littered with theft, robbery and drug charges. He was also in several automobile accidents throughout the years, six while on parole. Citations such as driving on a revoked license, reckless driving, failure to yield to emergency vehicles and fleeing police were also part of his record, as were numerous speeding tickets, many of which were reportedly issued after he was clocked traveling 20 mph or more above the speed limit. He’s caught charges in Arizona, North Carolina and Tennessee, according to police records.
Moore and Wayne Keown said in addition to Perkins being out of jail, they don’t understand how he still had a license.
During their meeting Wednesday, they received new information from reports made before Perkins’ release. Provided by Gary Tullock, cochair of the Tennessee Reentry Collaborative and a Tennessee Department of Correction employee, these reports indicate that Perkins never experienced remorse for the victims in his alleged robberies.
A psychological evaluation in those reports stated, “ ... inmate Perkins was defensive and seemed superficial, emotionally, during the interview. He was self-critical and remorseful regarding his offense, but displayed no empathy for the trauma induced in the employees of the stores that were robbed, even when he was asked specifically about them by the examiner. He would appear to have significant anti-social tendencies as reflected by the emotions described above. He has several offenses on record and his current offenses involved feigning the possession of a firearm. His adjustment to society is exacerbated with cocaine and marijuana dependence.”
Moore said she’s surprised not only by Perkins responses, but that of the board of parole in granting his release.
“What really surprised me about this, I mean really, really surprised me, you would expect to read this and it say he was remorseful and trying to do whatever to get out,” she said. “I mean he was honest about it, he didn’t try to act like he was sorry about what he did.”
Moore and Wayne Keown have spent the last month reaching out to law enforcement, politicians and other officials across the state. It paid off Wednesday when they got their first meeting with a public official. In that meeting, Lt. Gov. Ramsey told Moore and Keown he’d be glad to help, but they would also require the assistance of Sen. Doug Overbey and Rep. Bob Ramsey. They walked out of the lieutenant governor’s office with a good start, Moore said.
“We didn’t expect to go in there and then the law to be changed,” she said. “All we wanted from that first meeting was for him to say ‘Okay, we’ll help you and here’s where you need to go next,’ and that’s exactly what we got. I mean we’re not naive, this could take years to go through, but we feel that we’re headed in the right direction.”
Moore said she reached out to Overbey after the meeting and the next morning she received a call from his office to schedule a meeting. She also received a personal email from the senator, she said, in which he said he would help in any way he can to make the community safer for everyone.
“We know it’s going to take a long time and that’s fine,” Moore said. “I mean we were given a life sentence when this happened and I’m not going to stop until something changes ... we might not get exactly what we want and we’re okay with that. We have to sit down with them and talk to them about the laws and what is feasible, what can change and what has to happen for that to change. But we are hopeful.”