AUGUSTA — Families of unsolved homicide victims voiced their support for a bill introduced by Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, that would extend the statute of limitations for civil actions to be sought to 6 years.
Currently in Maine, a family of a homicide victim has only a 2 year window from the date of the victim’s death for bringing civil actions. The bill, LD 1605, would give families a window of 6 years from the time the victim’s family becomes aware that there may be a cause of action against a defendant.
“In my conversations with families of homicide victims I hear over and over again that the statute of limitations is too short,” said Sen. Valentino. “This bill would bring some fairness to the system for families, no matter how quickly a homicide is solved.”
For families of homicide victims whose cases go unsolved for a number of years, the extended statute of limitations gives more time for further evidence to be gathered - they may not know against whom to bring a civil action within the current 2 year timeframe.
Lisa Ouellette, who continues to await her daughter’s murder to be solved, wrote in support of the bill, saying that “it’s been 17 years since Ashley passed but I had to file civil suit just within the two years of her passing.”
Although the bill would not retroactively change the status of the statute of limitations for the families who testified, they chose to do so in order to help make the situation better for the families who will, unfortunately, find themselves in the same situation in the future.
“Losing a family member to homicide is, clearly, a traumatic experience and filing a civil action against the perpetrator within two years of the death is too much to bear,” said Sen. Valentino. “Expanding the timeframe will allow those families to take time to mourn and begin to heal and only file the action when they are emotionally ready to do so.”
Also speaking in support of the bill was Attorney General Janet Mills. No one spoke in opposition.
The Judiciary Committee members present unanimously approved the bill to move forward to the Senate.
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