Elected Officials Joined Family at Community Candlelight Vigil as the First Christmas without their Beloved Husband, Father and Neighbor Approaches


New Law Would Strengthen Criminal Penalties for Physical Assaults — Commonly Known As “One-Punch” — That Result In Injury or Death


BRONX, NY – Following the tragic death of Bronx resident Ildefonso Romero, Jr. last summer, Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester),together with Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx), today introduced “Ildefonso Romero’s Law,” new legislation that would strengthen criminal penalties for physical assaults that result in injury or death. This legislation would remedy glaring loopholes in New York’s penal law and give state prosecutors the ability to charge assailants with a new “E” class felony of aggravated assault for incidents that result in serious injury and establish a “D” class felony of manslaughter for cases where physical assault causes the unintended death of another person. The announcement came at a community candlelight vigil in the Soundview Section of the Bronx, as members of the Romero family and friends approach their first Christmas without Ildefonso.


Senator Klein said: “It is an injustice to the family of Mr. Romero that someone is able to escape harsher sentencing after committing such an atrocious act. With this new legislation, named in Ildefonso’s memory, I aim to close a longstanding loophole in New York’s penal law and ensure justice is finally served for victims of deadly assault and their families. This legislation sends a message that these type of crimes will not go unpunished. By introducing harsher penalties for these crimes, I hope to bring Ildefonso’s family some much needed closure, and, hopefully, increase awareness and put an end to these senseless acts.”


On June 21, 2014, Ildefonso Romero, Jr., a 59-year-old father of five attempted to intervene in a dispute in order to protect a young girl from a group of violent teenagers. Mr. Romero was then hit in the head with a single punch by a 17-year-old assailant and killed. The teen was later charged with and convicted of misdemeanor assault, resulting in less than a year of jail time.


“The outcome of the Ildefonso Romero, Jr. case is an unfortunate one for the family and friends he left behind,” said Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda. “This case, and others like it, have played out similarly in the past due to a gap in the legal definitions which dictate penalties for such actions. As such, I look forward to working with Senator Klein and my colleagues to push for stronger penalties in one punch cases like these by redefining what constitutes “substantial risk” within state legislation. By amending these laws we can eliminate the possibility that crimes such as these may be met with insufficient consequences.”


“My heart is split wide open and utterly broken because I lost my husband, my best friend and the father of my children,” said  Jenny Guevarez, wife of Ildefonso Romero, Jr. “Words cannot explain what my family and I have been feeling for the past 6 months when he was suddenly taken from us.  We pray that with the passing of this legislation, other families get better justice for the unjust loss of a loved one. I want like to thank Senator Klein for his efforts in passing this legislation.  Also, thank you to my family and friends for their continued support and love during this time.”


“Words cannot express the pain and sorrow our family and friends have endured since my father’s murder. The defendant’s decision to physically attack another human being with no regards for the impact it may have is unimaginable. My family and I are forever broken and left with a question that will remain unanswered,” said Jennifer Perez, daughter of Mr. Romero. “Thank you to Senator Klein and all those who are present. I am hopeful that with this legislation, all families affected by tragedies like this one will get the closure and justice they deserve.”


Under  current  state  law,  local  prosecutors lack the tools they need to charge  many  “one-punch”  assaults as felony offenses, even if those acts have fatal consequences. As a result, Mr.Romero’s killer was only prosecuted for misdemeanor assault.


Senator Klein’s new proposal aims to change that — creating an “E” class felony of aggravated assault to cover cases where a person intends to cause physical injury to another, and ultimately causes serious, sometimes permanent, physical injury to such person. The legislation will also establish a new “D” class felony of manslaughter in the 3rd degree for cases involving a person causing intentional physical injury to another person, and ultimately, causing the death of such person or third person.


“As our community continues to mourn the loss of Mr. Ildefonso Romero, Jr., a hero and dedicated family man whose life was taken in a senseless and vicious way, we will continue to stand united in seeking reforms that will bring real justice to other innocent victims of careless aggressive criminals,” said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo. “I commend my colleagues Senator Klein and Assemblyman Sepúlveda for introducing this important legislation and for advocating for safer communities and adequate justice.”


This new legislative package would bring New York up to speed with states like Oregon, Utah and Illinois that have already established felony offenses for incidents in which a single punch leads to a fatality.

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