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Wiles family works on bill in daughter's memory

DUNCAN, Okla._A Duncan family hopes to continue their daughter's legacy by creating stricter sentences for juveniles who commit several types of felonies.

Alyssa Wiles was murdered by her 16-year-old former boyfriend two years ago while a 14-year-old accomplice stood watch. Under state law, the younger boy was sentenced to time in a juvenile detention center because of his age. The Alyssa D. Wiles Law would allow juveniles like him to be considered youthful offenders in court for heinous crimes like accessory to murder. The Oklahoma Legislature approved the bill.

The Wiles family is determined to keep their daughter's memory alive by taking that legacy all the way to Oklahoma City in hopes that families in the future aren't faced with the same tough decisions as they were inside the courtroom.

"We either had juvenile or adult options to charge him, and because of his age, we chose juvenile," said Angela Wiles, Alyssa's mother.

It's been a long road since 2013 when Alyssa Wiles lost her life. One of those responsible, Michael Ray, is serving life without parole for stabbing Alyssa in her home. The other, a 14-year-old juvenile charged with accessory to murder, will be released when he turns 18. It was a sentence that never sat right with the Wiles family.

"We wanted to make sure no family had to choose from the options we had. No one would send a 14-year-old to prison. We want to make sure no family has to endure the juvenile system and know they're going to age out of the system," said Wiles.

Oklahoma law states that when it comes to serious felonies—including robbery, rape and assault or accessory to those crimes—minors will either be tried through the juvenile system that will release them at eighteen or as adults where they could receive long-term prison sentences.

Senate Bill 410 could take care of that by giving prosecutors and victims the option of charging defendants as youthful offenders, giving them a sentence that goes beyond the juvenile system, but not a harsh punishment fit for an adult.

"I would point out in this particular case, a second individual was keeping watch out for and ready to warn the perpetrator in advance as an accessory," explained Oklahoma Representative Dennis Johnson.

It's an option that Wiles wishes her family had been given, and now she hopes others will benefit from the bill and Alyssa's legacy will find a permanent home in Oklahoma.

"We don't forget her, and we don't want anyone else to forget her. She's very special and we just want everyone to remember her," said Wiles.

The Alyssa D. Wiles Law is now headed to Governor Fallin's desk. If she signs it, a formal ceremony will be scheduled sometime next month.

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