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Nixon stands by veto of bill that would remove names of sex offenders from state registry

Updated: 2013-08-22T03:08:30Z

By STEVE KRASKE

The Kansas City Star

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker points to a 1990 Kansas City rape as the reason Missouri lawmakers should support Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a sex offender bill.

In Kansas City on Wednesday, Nixon said that if his veto were to be overridden, it would remove hundreds of names from public sex offender websites because the offenders were juveniles when they committed their offenses. The name of Harry J. McNeal Jr. would be one of them.

McNeal was convicted of raping a woman in the 1990 case when he was 15. The assault occurred at 6 a.m. in the woman’s northeast Kansas City home after her husband had left to go on a short jog. The woman’s young son was asleep next to her.

“When he comes out (of prison), according to this bill, he won’t be a registered sex offender,” Baker said.

But House Speaker Tim Jones, a Eureka Republican, has said the sex offender bill “is ripe for an override.” Lawmakers will return to the Capitol next month to consider overrides of Nixon vetoes.

Backers of the legislation said giving juvenile offenders a second chance was the idea behind the measure. Rep. Dave Hinson, a St. Clair Republican, said he believes in giving people a second chance “just like God does.”

“If we let a murderer out of prison, that guy could still reoffend, and we don’t have a public website that lists all the murders,” Hinson told The Associated Press.

But Nixon, a Democrat, traveled to Kansas City and St. Louis to support his stance, and Baker joined him. Posters of other sex offenders whose names also would be removed from offender websites were on display.

Nixon said the law already allows offenders to petition to be taken off websites. In fact, he said, 72 names have been removed over the years.

The governor said that if the bill were to be overridden, 870 names on offender websites would disappear. Missourians sought information on those websites millions of times last year.

“It’s not good for public safety,” Nixon said. “It’s not good for law enforcement.”

To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to skraske@kcstar.com.

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