The parents of a young tech CEO murdered in Baltimore last year urged Maryland lawmakers Tuesday to end good behavior credits for imprisoned rapists, which is how the man accused of killing their daughter ended up out on the streets.
EcoMap Technologies CEO Pava Marie LaPere, 26, died in September 2023 from strangulation and blunt force trauma allegedly at the hands of 32-year-old convicted felon Jason Billingsley. He is charged with first-degree murder in her death and had only been out of prison for about a year after serving a shortened sentence for a 2013 rape because of his good behavior behind bars.
At the time of LaPere’s death, Baltimore police were searching for Billingsley in connection with a Sept. 19, 2023, rape that included a man and a woman being tied up with duct tape before their house was set on fire.
Frank and Caroline LaPere, Pava’s parents, testified Tuesday in support of a measure before state lawmakers prohibiting someone imprisoned for first-degree rape from automatically being eligible for early release credits because of good behavior.
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The bill, sponsored by Baltimore Democrat Del. Elizabeth Embry, would require the state’s parole commission to sign off before someone serving time for first-degree rape could be considered for early release. That stipulation is already in place for someone convicted of a sex offense against a victim under 16 years old.
“Pass the bill,” Caroline said. “It’s simple. Further, I want to say that there are so many victims who can’t or won’t have the chance to address you.”
While acknowledging how difficult it was to testify, she said that advocating for this bill is an important mission in serving Pava’s legacy and supporting actions to help prevent violence.
Frank added that they “never want any other family to have to identify their daughter’s body, almost unrecognizable, again.”
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Senate President Bill Ferguson said Tuesday he believes there will be enough support to change the law.
“I think, particularly for first-degree rape situations, there is very good reason to have extra eyes on the diminution credits and make sure that something like what happened this past year can’t happen again,” Ferguson said.
Gov. Wes Moore, who knew LaPere, has also expressed support for changing the law.
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LaPere was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for social impact in 2023.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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