Victims Need Stronger Rights – Skylar’s Story

Marsy’s Law for Kentucky will provide Constitutional rights for crime victims – equivalent to those that the accused and convicted enjoy. It will ensure that crime victims and their families are informed of hearings, their rights, and have a protected voice as the case against the accused moves forward. Skylar’s family, tragically, is learning every day why Marsy’s Law is needed.
In the early morning hours of May 29, 2016, Skylar, just 21 years old, stepped outside of the country-western bar where he and his friends had been enjoying the evening. He stepped outside to break up an altercation involving his friend. But, that wouldn’t have been unexpected from this young man who friends described as selfless and someone who saw the good in everyone.
While trying to help stop the fight, Skylar was shot in the back of the head and left lying in the parking lot by his assailant. Skylar was rushed to the hospital, fighting for his life, and was determined to be paralyzed because of the damage done to his spinal cord by the bullet.
Although paralyzed and unable to move from the neck down, Skylar’s grandmother, Stella, says that his mind was untouched and he maintained his sweet disposition and great sense of humor through his incredible struggle. Although he couldn’t speak, he was able to communicate using a letter board and signal with his eyes. He would grin in response to the jokes made by family and friends and they would sometimes take him outside into the sunshine in a special wheelchair. However, Skylar continued to suffer from with pneumonia and lost his battle on September 28, 2016.
Stella, like so many of us, says she has always felt terrible for other families who experienced situations like this. She would hear their stories and her heart would break for them, but never in a million years did she think she’d lose a grandchild to murder. Nor did she have any way of knowing how it felt until she and her family experienced the heartbreak firsthand.
The offender was arrested on June 8, 2016, – several days after the shooting – and charged with assault and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. Despite Skylar’s death, his family has not been notified as to whether the charges will be modified in the case against his offender, nor were they notified about an arraignment. They were not informed about the VINE system that would keep them notified in case the offender is released or escapes from custody. They simply wish to be notified of and be able to be present at court hearings and feel as if they have a voice in the case against Skylar’s offender. Marsy’s Law would give them this respect.