One year after the death of Erica Alonso, her parents, Isaac and Margarita Alonso, joined California State Senator Janet Nguyen in the Senate’s Public Safety Committee to advocate for SB 1088, a bill inspired by Erica’s case. SB 1088, authored by Senator Nguyen, seeks to increase the penalty for individuals who move a body after an accidental death from a misdemeanor to a felony. Senator Nguyen is pleased to announce that the bill was approved unanimously and will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval.
During the committee hearing, the parents of Erica Alonso provided emotional testimony in support of the bill. Specifically, they spoke about the heartache and uncertainty that their family experienced during the seventy-days that Erica was missing.
“As a mother, I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that the Alonso family went through not knowing what happened to their daughter. Both the Alonso family and I believe that a Judge deserves the discretion to elevate the current punishment for moving a body if the facts of the crime so merit,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “If the law does not change, the punishment for moving a body and consequently, altering an investigation and incurring unnecessary costs for law enforcement, would continue to be the sentencing equivalent to petty theft.”
On April 27, 2015, Erica Alonso was found in a dry creek bed near Ortega Highway and Hot Springs Canyon Road. According to the County Coroner, her death was ruled accidental. However, given the location where her body was found, it appears that someone moved her body to hide her death.
Currently, dumping a body after an accidental death is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in county jail or a fine ranging from one thousand ($1,000), to ten thousand ($10,000) dollars, or both a fine and imprisonment. If SB 1088 becomes law, the penalty for dumping a body would potentially increase to a felony.
Following the bill’s passage out of the Senate Public Safety Committee, Senator Nguyen said:
“The Alonso family has suffered an unimaginable loss yet through their grief they have taken up this cause to help other families. I applaud them and all those who have supported this bill,” said Senator Janet Nguyen.
SB 1088 is principally co-authored by Senator Bates and co-authored by Senator Nielsen, Huff, and Runner and supported by Assembly Members Mayes and Lackey. SB 1088 will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee when it will be heard in May.