Killers in New York state no longer will have the power to control what happens to their victims' remains. The prohibition comes from a new bill prompted by the case of a woman slain by her husband and then buried near his favorite fishing spot, over her family's objections.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers said Monday they had agreed on final wording of the bill, which is expected to pass easily before the end of the legislative session on June 21. The so-called slayer law would prevent those charged in a person's death from controlling the disposal of their victim's remains. It also would allow people wrongly charged with a murder to appeal to a court for the right to arrange disposition of remains.
The family of Constance Shepherd, whose throat was slashed in 2009, pushed for the legislation after a battle with Shepherd's husband, Stephen Shepherd. He was sentenced last year to 21 years in prison for her murder.
According to an announcement after the Senate passed the legislation in May, Stephen Shepherd "refused to take any action to dispose of his wife’s remains, leaving her body in the county morgue" for months. When he finally did deal with his wife's remains, it was to have her buried near his favorite fishing spot, far from her home in the western New York city of Tonawanda.