Senate Bill 91, "The Omnibus Crime Law" currently before the Alaska Legislature will reduce sentences and provide early release to inmates so that Alaska can reduce costs and overcrowding of our prisons. But would the changes in SB 91 have saved our daughter Bree's life?
Let us look back on the years leading up Bree's murder. Her boyfriend Joshua Almeda was 22 years old when he murdered her, and in the two years before, he had been given many alternatives to incarceration despite a history of violence.
In 2010, shortly after turning 19, Almeda had a drunken altercation with the club security guards where he brandished a handgun and drove his truck towards a man, striking him. Almeda fled and was later arrested. Then, when out on bail, he was arrested for DUI again.
He was convicted and sentenced for the two events, 60 days with 60 days suspended (no jail time) and two years probation. In the second case he received a sentence of 120 days with 110 suspended (10 days in jail) and three years' probation. The other counts were dismissed, and he was given an opportunity to rehabilitate.
Then, three months later, he was arrested for felony-level domestic violence assaults against his father and sister and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. His sentence was 10 days with 10 days suspended, and he was placed on probation. Again, no jail time. Again, an opportunity to rehabilitate.
Six months later he was convicted of attempted vehicle theft and received a sentence of 365 days with 345 suspended, (20 days in jail) and three more years of probation. Literally the very next day after resolving the theft case, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, accused of threatening to kill police and physically resisting them. He was convicted of resisting arrest.
Then, five months later he was convicted for possession of cocaine, his first felony. In May 2013, prior to resolving that charge and while out on felony bail, he was charged with domestic violence assault, fourth-degree misconduct involving a weapon and felony third-degree criminal mischief for a drunken incident involving his then-girlfriend.
The pattern of assault behavior coupled with weapons continued.
In August 2013, he received a suspended sentence in the drug case for 30 months (no jail time, just probation). It is surprising that after the track record he presented, the court would accept such an agreement. Again he was given the gift of a suspended sentence and a chance to clear his record.
As part of the suspended sentence Almeda received for possession of cocaine, he was ordered to complete a treatment program and was restricted from consuming alcohol. Then, on June 25, he "passed his test" successfully completing the court-ordered substance abuse program. That night, Almeda stopped on the way home and purchased a bottle of liquor, (able to do so with his license not required to be surrendered at sentencing) and within six hours of "graduating" his treatment program, he murdered Bree.
All of those sentences apparently meant nothing to Almeda and it is clear that the judges hoped that he would rehabilitate, but he did not. Almeda was able to continue to victimize others without being held accountable for his actions.
The current system failed our family and most of all, Bree. Our daughter was murdered by someone who should have been in jail, and when released, should have been required to surrender his license for one that said, "Alcohol Restricted." Legislators, please apply SB 91 to Almeda's criminal history and tell me that SB 91 will better protect people and save lives. If SB 91 doesn't do that, amend it and don't pass it until it does.
For murdering Bree, Almeda was sentenced to 75 years, eligible for parole in 25 years, the same minimum time in prison he would receive if he had raped Bree while in possession of a weapon.
There are multiple amendments proposed to the current version SB 91. It is not certain what amendments will be made, but I cannot support it without including at least the following two that will protect and save lives:
1. AS 28.15.191(g) License Surrender: An offender with a restriction on alcohol purchase and consumption as a condition of probation or parole shall surrender their state-issued drivers license and state identification card to the court following conviction and be re-issued at their expense a new ID with the words "Alcohol Restricted".
2. AS 12.55.125 Murder: Increase the minimum mandatory sentences for murder, by adding 15 years to each sentence: Murder 2 (now 10) = 25 years and Murder 1 (now 20) = 35 years. So that Murder is equal to Rape sentencing. (I think murderers should do more time than rapists.)
I miss Bree terribly and nothing can bring her back. She was incredible and would want us all to do whatever we could to prevent what happened to her from happening to anyone else. SB 91 is rewriting the entire criminal code, but the 2015 Offender Profile Report from the Alaska Department of Corrections (page 8) shows the inmate population from 2013 to 2015 increased by only three inmates. SB 91 has time to be written correctly, so it protects the public and saves lives like Bree's, not just saves money.
Butch Moore is the father of Bree Moore, the namesake for legislation passed in 2015 called Bree's Law, which added curriculum about relationship violence to Alaska public middle- and high-school coursework.
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