One Oklahoma family is turning their advocacy for their murdered daughter into action to help the families of other crime victims.
Michael Taylor made a promise after his daughter was killed and her remains were found burnt on property owned by the father of her fiancé. His promise was to be at every court hearing, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Taylor is likely one hearing away from meeting his goal after Kevin Sweat confessed to killing his daughter Ashley and two girls from Weleetka, earlier this year. He says there were some hearings he wasn't able to attend, but his wife was able to attend. He says having a presence in the courtroom to represent his daughter was important. “I wanted him [Kevin Sweat], to know I was there. He needed to know that we're not going to let this go.”
The triple murder case resulted in many delays and a lot of hearings, some that gave little notice to the Taylors who had to take time off work and drive more than an hour to get to court. “The amount of time that we ended up taking off work, my wife and I, was unbelievable,” Taylor told Fox 25.
Taylor says his employer was supportive, but with all the hearings and the prospect of a trial that could last weeks he was always worried the generosity might wear out. “They never told me know, but even at that, the thought is always in the back of your mind ‘How long are they going to allow this to go on?' Taylor said.
Now the Taylors are working on a proposal to lawmakers that would give the families of crime victims peace of mind that they can't lose their jobs for going to court hearings. Right now the law allows victims and their families to attend every court hearing, but there is no protection for their jobs, or their employers.
“I think we should be able to come up with something so people don't have to worry about their jobs when they go through this,” Taylor said.
He has begun the process of contacting legislators with the idea and has the support of a homicide victims support group he and his wife have joined.
“This is something where, this is a tragic situation that this family has had to go through for three years, but hopefully we can get something to come out of it,” said State Senator Kyle Loveless (R, Oklahoma City), “To let other people and victims know that they'll be OK when they get through it.”
Senator Loveless says he supports the idea of providing protections to ease the burdens of the families of violent crimes. He wants to work with the business community and other lawmakers to draft legislation for the 2015 session.
“As a business owner we have to balance that with make sure no one is abusing the system maybe have a judge check off and give them a note,” Loveless said.