Lawmakers sustain veto of sex offender bill

Measure set aside without vote

Missouri legislators on Wednesday sustained Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have relaxed public notification requirements for hundreds of people convicted of sex offenses as juveniles.

The House briefly discussed the bill but set it aside without voting on an override after supporters acknowledged that many of their colleagues had concerns about it.

Under the bill, people who were younger than 18 when they committed sex offenses would have no longer appeared on law enforcement websites that list the names, photos and addresses of sex offenders. It would have removed 858 of the 13,581 people currently listed on the Missouri Highway Patrol’s sex offender website.

The legislation also would have allowed juvenile sex offenders to eventually seek removal from the lists of registered sex offenders kept by police.

Supporters of the bill had argued people convicted as youths deserved a second chance at a life.

But Nixon had said the bill could have hidden the whereabouts of some people who committed violent offenses and thus endangered the public.

In defense of his veto, Nixon’s office distributed information on specific sex offenders who could have been removed from the list. Among them was Daniel Winfrey, who was 15 years old in April 1991, when sisters Julie and Robin Kerry were raped and killed near St. Louis. Winfrey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and rape after agreeing to testify against several others involved in the crime.

Other offenders cited by the governor’s office as likely to be removed from the public registry included men who had been convicted as juveniles of rape, sexual assault and sodomy against children who were ages 5, 6, 7 and 8.

The bill had been backed by the owners of a tobacco store chain who are frequent political donors and whose son is on the Missouri sex offender registry because of an offense he committed as a 17-year-old in Illinois in 1998.

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