Teacher's death prompts new legislation

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by NATASHA RYAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 12:10 AM

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma teacher who was gunned down at her school has inspired state leaders to do something about stalking.  

Jennifer Paulson's family will be in Olympia Thursday when the attorney general lays out his legislative priorities for the year.
 
Jennifer was shot and killed outside Birney Elementary in February of 2010 by her stalker, Ted Waits.  She was a special education teacher at the school.  
 
"She was a 30-year-old woman, she made her own choices, it doesn't matter how old they get, every day, I say I'm sorry I couldn't keep you safe...I'm sorry," said Jennifer's mother, Nancy Heisler.
 
Almost two years have passed since Paulson's murder but it takes two seconds for Jennifer's family to go back to the moment they heard their daughter's stalker killed her. 
 
"I remember my body shaking inside," said Heisler.
 
Jennifer's killer met her at a cafeteria in college, they were never romantically involved. She did everything she was supposed to over the years.  She filed police reports, got an anti-harassment order, but in the end it didn't save her. 
 
"Yes, absolutely, I think the system failed her," said Jennifer's father, Ken Paulson. 
 
Since her death, her father has tried to get laws passed to toughen the penalties for stalking and finally he's seeing legislation he has long hoped for.  
 
"I think it would be something she would want to see happen," said Ken.
 
Legislation Jennifer's mother hopes spare other families.
 
"It's unbearable pain, it's unbearable.  It's a pain that never goes away.  It changes your life forever. 
 
The legislation creates a new stalking civil protection order that allows prosecutors to charge those that violate orders with a misdemeanor or felony.  It would also authorizes electronic monitoring if the person is released before trial and increases the penalties for stalking from a maximum of five years to 10 years.
 

 

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