HARRISONBURG, Va.-- The friends and family of a teenager killed in 2012 will address the General Assembly on Monday to push for tougher sentences for accomplices of murder.
Ben Graessle was shot and killed outside an apartment complex in Harrisonburg in 2012.
Alcinda Brubaker remembers her friend in a good light.
"It is sad that someone I grew up with went to high school with, graduated with, was going to transfer to JMU, where I am currently a student, passed away right outside of his apartment," said Brubaker.
Givi Dudunia who was charged with accessory after the fact, served only a year in jail for helping the murderer escape. Dudunia drove home Dallas Chaplin, the man who pleaded guilty in court to killing Graessle.
Delegate Ben Cline ( R-24th) was one of the lawmakers who introduced a bill to make accessory to the fact of a murder a felony. If convicted, the accomplice could spend up to five years in jail. Currently, it is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail.
Graessle's family and friends will present nearly 6,000 petitions to the General Assembly.
Graessle's friend Alcinda Brubaker has helped collect petitions since November.
"I thought we would get a 100 or 200 but we are close to 6,000, and that is incredible for the short amount of time," said Brubaker.
Graessle's mom, will also testify before the committee of courts and justice about her son's story. She said she hopes something good can be come out of this tragedy.
If the legislation passes, it would not increase penalties for the accomplice in Graessle's murder. However, it would apply to future murders.
Something Brubaker said would do a lot of good.
"I think a lot of families that have experienced the same thing in Virginia will also be able to heal," said Brubaker.
The group will leave Harrisonburg from Court Square at 10:30 on Monday.
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