'Chelsea's Law' Could Track Sex Offenders Via GPS

Death of Chelsea King prompts lawmaker to overhaul laws monitoring predators.

March 10, 2010, 1:58 PM

March 10, 2010— -- Known sex offenders should be outfitted with GPS devices that would track their movements and immediately alert police if predators travelled to restricted areas near schools or parks, a California lawmaker told ABC News.com.

Following the alleged rape and murder of 17-year-old high school student Chelsea King by convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R- San Diego, called for a complete review of California laws intended to monitor known offenders.

Fletcher said California law requires sex offenders to register where they live, but not where they go. Police in the nearby towns of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo are working to determine if in Gardner's routine travels between his residence and his mother's home he attempted to abduct girls along the way.

"I'm really concerned where these sex predators go because where you live is one thing, but where you go is another matter. If you're a certain category of sex offender you can't go where kids congregate. You can't go to parks, you can't go to bus stops, you can go to schools," Fletcher said.

"We're looking at the possibility of using technology. Using a GPS device that's a passive device, but the minute you cross into one of these safe zones it immediately pings a 911 call and you've committed a crime by violating it," he said.

King's body was found in a shallow grave near Lake Hodges on March 2, ending a week-long search for the straight-A student who disappeared Feb. 25 during an afterschool run at a park.

Gardner, who served five years in prison after admitting to molesting a 13-yeard-old girl in 2000, was arrested March 1 after his DNA was found on clothes belonging to King found in the area where she vanished.

In the days following his arrest and arraignment, police have since linked him to one other attack in the same park and believe he may be connected to the death of Amber DuBois, 14, who disappeared in February 2009 and whose skeletal remains were discover over this past weekend.

Chelsea King's Parent Want to Change Sex Offender Laws

"We will work with law enforcement, district attorneys, crime victims groups, legislators, and others to evaluate the current system and identify problems, shortcomings, and gaps," Fletcher said of his proposed overhaul of sex offender laws.

King's parents said they would work with the assemblyman to "make the kind of changes that will save precious young lives like hers."

"We do not yet know when or how those efforts will take shape, but our commitment to carry her light forward is steadfast. We have decided to collaborate with Assemblyman Fletcher on these yet undefined initiatives," her parents Brent and Kelly King said in a statement.

On Tuesday it was revealed that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation last year destroyed records pertaining to Gardner's 2005 to 2008 parole as part of a routine annual documents dump.

The Associated Press and Fletcher's office both requested the documents, prompting the department to reveal that they had been destroyed.

Upon learning of the department's policy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered all parole records for convicted sex offenders held indefinitely.

While those records were destroyed, the San Diego County Superior Court Tuesday released a copy of Gardner's probation report from 2000 in which a court psychiatrist described the then 21-year-old as "simply a bad guy who is inordinately interested in young girls."

Dr. Matthew Carroll said Gardner's "predilection toward younger girls is a problem. He manifests significant predatory traits and is a danger to the community," the officer wrote.

Gardner accepted a plea deal in 2000 after being charged with committing lewd and lascivious acts against a 13-year-old neighbor he picked up on her way to school. Though he faced a 15-year maximum sentence Gardner was sentenced to six years, of which he served five, on the recommendation of a probation officer.

Recommendation to Give John Gardner Maximum Sentence Ignored

Despite a recommendation for the maximum sentence by Carroll, the probation officer recommended a lighter sentence given he had no prior record, according to the documents reviewed by the Associated Press. The judge accepted the officer's recommendation.

Carroll will not speak about the case, but last week his colleague Dr. Mark Kalish told ABC News Carroll was angry that the court did not accept his recommendations.

"Dr. Carroll told the court that [Gardner] showed no insight and expressed no responsibility and that he is a danger. You can't make a stronger statement than that," said Kalish

"No one can predict what someone will do 10 years down the road, but had this guy been prosecuted to the full extent he could have been looking at 30 years in prison and this crime would never have happened," he said.

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