BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) - A newcomer to the Arkansas House is pushing for change after her daughter's murder, wanting the state's death penalty system to be streamlined.
Rebecca Petty, the Rogers Republican who won the state House District 94 seat in the November general election, will be sworn in on January 12, 2015. She said she plans to focus on child advocacy and crime-victim advocacy.
"I feel honored," she said. "That's the biggest word for me is that I feel so honored to be here and fighting for people."
Petty's daughter, Andi Brewer, was raped and strangled in a wooded area near Mena in 1999 by Karl D. Roberts, the child’s uncle by marriage, records show. Roberts, who was sentenced to die on May 24, 2000, is one of 31 convicts on Arkansas’ death row, according to the Arkansas Department of Correction website.
Roberts' execution was called off after he legally halted it.
Roberts appeared in Polk County Circuit Court on Monday (Dec. 30) for a competency evaluation to determine if he could waive his post-conviction rights.
Andi’s father, Greg Brewer, jumped the partition in the courtroom and tried to attack Roberts. Brewer was tackled to the ground by Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies and transported to the Polk County Jail, according to a representative from the courthouse.
Deputies subdued Brewer before he was able to strike his daughter’s killer. He was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault, obstructing governmental operations and resisting arrest, which are all misdemeanors, said Polk County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Scott Sawyer.
Sawyer said Brewer was released from jail Monday afternoon on $730 bond.
Petty said Brewer flipped off Roberts shortly after a lunch break during Monday’s hearing. Brewer then jumped the partition after Roberts looked back and said, “Greg, it’s all going to be O.K.”
"I do not believe in vigilante justice," Petty said. "However being the mother, a part of me was like our family has been re-victimized over and over for the past 15 years and I can see in the mother part of me why he did it."
Petty said what happened to her family over the last 15 years prompted her to draft a bill allowing crime-victim families to watch executions in person.
"It has to do with the conduct of an execution and the victim's rights during that time which is going to be called Andi's Law," she said.
Petty said she expects Andi's Law will pass when she brings it to the House floor in January.