Lauria and Ashley's Law Passes House

Feb 21, 2024
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami, today earned passage of a bill that would add accessory to murder in the first or second degree to the list of crimes that would require an offender to serve 85% of their prison sentence before being eligible for consideration for parole. Those convicted also would not be eligible to earn any type of credits that would reduce the sentence to below 85% of what was imposed.

House Bill 2946 is named Lauria and Ashley's Law after 16-year-olds Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, of Welch, who were kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed on New Year's Eve in 1999. It is presumed their bodies were dumped in a Pitcher mine pit. Ashley's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, were shot to death in the crime. Their remains were found in their mobile home that had been set on fire.

Lauria Bible's mother, Lorene Bible; her cousin, Lisa Bible-Brodrick; and Melissa Dixon, another family member, watched from the House gallery as the bill passed on the House floor on a vote of 85-13.

The act addresses the reduced prison sentence of a man charged with accessory to felony murder in the case. Ronnie Busick was sentenced in 2020 to 10 years prison sentence with five years' probation, but only one year supervised. Because of good-days earned while incarcerated as well time credited while in a county jail, Busick was released after just three years in prison. He's now back in the community where the crimes were committed, in close proximity to where family members of the victims still live.

It is reported that Busick received a lessened sentence in exchange for information leading to the discovery of the teens' bodies. They still have not been found. 

"While I can't rewind the clock and re-prosecute this horrible crime, I can do the only thing I know to do to try to bring some measure of peace to this family that has suffered so much," Bashore said. "I've authored legislation to ensure going forward that anyone connected with a felony murder such as this will not be released prematurely from prison and will not receive any type of credits for time served."

For more than 24 years, the family members of Lauria and Ashley have lived with the unimaginable pain of not knowing the full details of the crime or where their loved ones' bodies are located. They've endured the long, arduous process of court cases and agonizing searches for the bodies of the missing girls fore more than two decades.

"For twenty-four years we've searched and searched and searched for the girls, always asking what do we do next. What haven't we done," Lorene Bible said. "We were never told that accessory to felony murder was not an 85% crime. We would never have agreed to that had we known."

Bible said when the family found out Busick would be released after just three years in prison, they were furious, but they soon realized there was nothing they could do.

"Busick basically has more rights than we do at this point," she said. "And while we cannot help Lauria and Ashley, if this law helps another family so they don't have to be in the same place we are, then we want that.

"We also want criminals who go along with these crimes to know that if they get caught they will do as much time as the person who pulls the trigger."

If enacted, Lauria and Ashley's Law would go into effect Nov. 1, 2024. 

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