Bill would impose mandatory minimums for convicted mass murderers
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pat Heinert, was brought to a committee hearing on Tuesday morning, Jan. 10.
GRAND FORKS — A bill recently introduced in the North Dakota House would add "mass murder" to state law for the first time, if it passes.
House Bill 1122, known as the "mass murder bill," would add a definition of mass murder to the North Dakota Century Code, as well as impose a mandatory minimum sentence followed by a lifetime of parole or probation.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Pat Heinert, R-Bismarck, who spoke in its favor during a committee meeting on Tuesday morning, Jan. 10.
“In my opinion, this bill is long overdue," Heinert, a former county sheriff, said.
Someone would be guilty of Class AA felony mass murder if they knowingly caused the death of at least four individuals, or the death of one individual and serious bodily injury to at least three others, the bill says.
With a mass murder conviction, a defendant would be sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. When released, they would be on supervised probation or parole for the rest of their life.
Knowingly aiding in a mass murder by providing materials, logistics, or support would be charged as a Class B felony under the bill.
According to Heinert, a goal of the bill is to let potential offenders know “if this happens here, we’re going to treat you very seriously.”
Some concerns voiced by meeting attendees include whether accidental deaths (such as some car crashes) could result in a mass murder conviction.
“Murder, you have to have the intent to take somebody’s life,” Heinert said.
The proposed Legislature classifies mass murder as committed “intentionally or knowingly.”
Further questions were raised about whether the 85% rule would apply to the minimum mandatory 30 year sentence.
The rule requires convicts of certain crimes to serve at least 85% of their sentence before becoming eligible for release.
Heinert said the 85% rule would not apply to the mandatory minimum sentence for mass murder.
Heinert also said changes to the bill will likely be made to provide consistency.