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Laura's Law makes crime a felony

It's highly unlikely that SF 3213, AKA Laura's Law, which makes it a felony to interfere with a body or a murder crime scene will affect those of us in Otter country. But all the same, we are not immune to situations that could bring this law into play here, so we support the state Legislature's work and the governor's signature on the bill, which will take effect Aug. 1.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) and Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) authored the bill after a 21-year-old Starbuck man, left the body of Laura Schwendemann in a field. Though no evidence exists that she was murdered — reports say she died of a drug overdose — the young man left her in a field, rather than call authorities. High on meth and other drugs, he couldn't think of what else to do, he said.

The new law makes it felony to conceal a body, punishable by three years in prison.

As a massive search was mounted to find her, the young man she was last seen with denied any knowledge of where she was, though it was later determined that he had known where she was and didn't tell authorities. Meanwhile, her family lived through 10 days of "unbearable pain and anguish," until her body was found in a corn field on Oct. 26, according to news reports. Five days later the young man admitted to hiding her body.

At 21 years of age, this young man knew what he should do. He chose not to make the call because he didn't want to face the music for possession of and use of drugs. There may also have been a chance that he would be charged with the girl's death, though in hindsight, had he called 911, the state's Good Samaritan law may have helped him. Fear of reprisal isn't a reason to not do the right thing.

Unfortunately for this family, there is no sense of justice - the young man received a year of jail time, with credit for the 138 days he had already served. He will spend considerable less than a year in jail. It seems woefully inadequate, even to us.