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‘Nick Risner Act’ signed into law, honors late Sheffield police sergeant

BY HEATHER GANN, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed into law House Bill 143, which prevents those convicted of killing someone with a deadly weapon from receiving a reduced sentence under Alabama’s “good time” penalty reductions.

Bill sponsor Rep. Phillip Pettus, R- Green, spoke on his personal connection to the bill and shared that his son, Phillip Pettus II, a Muscle Shoals firefighter, was good friends with the fallen Sheffield sergeant the bill is named for, Nick Risner. The younger Pettus responded to the scene when Risner was shot in October and fought to keep him alive in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

“I hope that no family ever has to go through what Nick’s family did,” Pettus said Wednesday. “Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children.”

Risner was allegedly killed by a man who was released from prison after serving a little more than three years of a 10-year sentence for manslaughter. The suspect was eligible for early release under the state’s law allowing prisoners to earn time off their sentences for good behavior behind bars. 

Several Shoals lawmakers filed bills to change who is eligible for early release from prison.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, added an amendment to the bill last week that specifies killings by “means of a deadly weapon” aren’t eligible for early release. Pettus said that means the law won’t apply to vehicular deaths.


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