Evidence tampering bill passes
Polk County Enterprise, May 2007
LIVINGSTON — A bill to increase the punishment for tampering with evidence has passed the Texas House and Senate and if signed by Gov. Rick Perry's will become law Sept. 1.
House Bill 872, filed by Rep. John Otto R-Dayton, increases punishment for tampering with physical evidence from a maximum of 10 years in prison to 20 years in prison where the evidence tampered with or concealed was a human corpse, Polk County District Attorney Hon said.
Hon testified before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee of the Texas House of Representatives on April 3 in support of a bill to increase the punishment for tampering with physical evidence.
"Under current law, a person who commits murder and successfully disposes of the body in such a manner as to hinder a murder prosecution can effectively reduce their prison exposure from life in prison to a maximum of 10 years," Hon said.
Otto's bill was inspired by the September 2003 murder of 4-year-old Anthony Lafayette Boone near the Ace community, Hon said.
The little boy's body was not discovered until January 2004 when his mother, Tabitha Boone, led investigators to a shallow grave near a house she shared with her boyfriend, Billy Ray Hill.
Although Boone originally confessed to murdering her son, subsequent investigation led investigators to charge Hill with Anthony Lafayette Boone's murder.
Hill was tried and acquitted for his alleged role in the killing.
Hon testified that it was undisputed that the mother and Hill had participated in the burial of the body and subsequent cover-up. However, due to the advanced decomposition of the body, efforts to recover valuable forensic evidence during the autopsy were thwarted.
Tabitha Boone later pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and received the maximum 10-year sentence for her part in the burial.
Hill pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and received a 12-year sentence for the offense and his probation for a prior offense was revoked.
Sharon Cave of Corpus Christi joined Hon with additional testimony supporting the bill. Cave's daughter Jennifer was brutally murdered and dismembered by Colton Pitonyak, a University of Texas student, in Travis County in 2005.
Hon thanked Otto for filing and supporting the bill which, if passed by the committee, will go to the full House for a vote.
A companion bill, Senate Bill 1393, Has been filed by Sen. Robert Nichols and assigned to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.