Mark's Law Passes Senate; Helps Protects First Responders

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Named for a north country Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who was shot to death in Cape Vincent five years ago, a bill passed by the state Senate Tuesday would increase the penalties for killing a first responder.

Mark's Law passed the Senate 59 to 0. The bill would make killing an emergency responder such as a firefighter or EMT first degree murder.

The law is named for Mark Davis, an EMT who was shot to death while responding to a call in Cape Vincent in 2009.

Christopher Burke of Cape Vincent was sentenced to 16 years in state prison for the crime.

Davis' family was in the Senate chambers Tuesday. The family says the vote is a step in the right direction.

"He would be very honored," said Davis' sister, Maricia Astafan.

"It's a good way to remember him and a way to protect other people and to know this will not be tolerated if this happens again," she said.

Astafan is following in her brother's footsteps by studying to be a paramedic.

She says the law will protect her colleagues in the line of duty.

The one thing you can deal with because it's out there that it's not tolerated to do something to you - you know, EMTs, firefighters and first responders - that they're not going to get away with it," Astafan said.

This bill still needs to pass the state Assembly and be signed by the governor before it becomes law.

Davis' family hopes it won't stop there. They would like to see other states adopt similar laws.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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