According to New York State law, the murder of an EMT, firefighter or any other medical responder in the line of duty is not the same as killing a police, court, probation or other officer. It's a distinction one North Country family found out about the hard way. But since her son was killed three years ago, one woman has worked tirelessly to change it. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the mother of Mark Davis was in Albany Tuesday as her dream moved one step closer to reality.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- As State Senator Patty Ritchie took the floor, up in the gallery, Marsha Dickinson sat, a self-described barrel of nerves. She was there for her son, Cape Vincent EMT Mark Davis.
Davis was shot to death responding to call. His killer, serving 12 to 16 years. A sentence Dickinson says is so short, she can't even comprehend it.
"There's a loophole in the law and I don't think everyone knows it's there. If you don't know it's there, how can you fix it?" Dickinson asked.
State penal law says only those who murder police, court and other officers of law will serve a mandatory life sentence with no possibility for parole.
For more than a year, Dickinson has worked tirelessly to get lawmakers to add EMTs, firefighters and other emergency responders.
"He would want them protected. I believe that with all that I have. He would, those were his brothers and sisters, literally. Not only did he have Michael, Brandon and Maricia, but he had all of his EMS family," Dickinson said.
"I just don't think justice was necessarily put in place when Mark passed away. I think if it were to happen to me, I would hope whoever did it, would get sentenced the max they could. I just don't think 16 years is enough," said Maricia Astafan, Davis’ sister.
As soon as Senator Ritchie finished speaking, the vote was read: 59-0. The Senate passed Mark's Law.
"They're the people who are running into dangerous situations when we are running out. We need to send a strong message saying that we are behind you and this won't be tolerated," Senator Ritchie said.
"I don't know. There's just no words. It's the most exciting thing," Dickinson said.
"I commend Mark's family for coming down today. It must have been extremely hard, but at the same time it must have been very rewarding because they've worked so hard to get this legislation passed,” Ritchie said.
But before this legislation can be officially signed into law, it still has to go through the Assembly where it now sits. Senator Ritchie says she's very confident the Assembly will move quickly and is very hopeful it will pass just as easily as it did here in the Senate.
Dickinson says if Mark's Law passes through the Assembly and is signed, she'll push every state in the country to pass a similar version.