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August 14, 2013

Noble family who lost son wants expungement law changed

NORMAN — Six years ago, a Noble family lost their 5-year-old son, Austin Haley, to a former police officer’s stray bullet. They recently found out the same officer has since had his record expunged, and the family is now on a mission to change the law allowing that to happen.

In 2007, former police officer Paul Bradley Rogers and his former supervising officer, Robert Shawn Richardson, responded to a neighbor’s call about removing a snake from a birdhouse. The snake was believed to be poisonous, so Richardson told Rogers to shoot the snake, but Austin was struck in the process.

Rogers was later found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, and he and Richardson received deferred sentences.

Manslaughter is a violent crime that one would typically not receive a deferred sentence for, Austin’s mother, Renee Haley, said, but since the two received deferred sentences, one was able to get his record expunged through a loophole and, from her understanding, the supervision officer is trying to as well.

Haley said that the law was changed in November allowing a loophole that basically says if the person received a deferred sentence, their record can be expunged.

“Normally deferred sentences would be for much lesser crimes,” she said. “(This loophole) wasn’t meant for people who killed a little 5-year-old boy. It was meant for lesser crimes.”

Haley said they are only asking for fairness.

“If the roles were reversed and I had shot the gun, it would be much different. I would’ve been sent to jail and the sentence would have been done more harshly,” she said.

As it is, the two never served any jail time and were asked by the court to do some community service with animals, Haley said, adding that the only form of punishment they were really given was that this violent crime was going to stay on their record forever.

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