Mother hopes D'Annunzio law will pass, bring closure

To finally attain closure.

This is a need Shawn D’Annunzio has been requesting on behalf of her late son, Brandon D’Annunzio, for more than a decade.

Brandon D’Annunzio did not go to MSU.

Instead, he was visiting the city to attend a friend’s bachelor party. He was 24 years old and was planning to get married.

He died about 12 years ago, days after being assaulted by an individual who had been drinking alcohol. D’Annunzio also had been drinking that night.

And since the event, his mother desperately has been trying to find answers.

“I didn’t want him to go to jail forever. It was an accident. … I want an ‘I’m sorry’; I wanted him to look me in the face and explain to me that he did an act under (the influence of alcohol),” she said.

After the incident, leads on the perpetrator hit dead end after dead end, until an article in The State News, published in fall 2010 on the 10th anniversary of his death, brought the unsolved case back into the public eye.

Ultimately, the article led the East Lansing Police Department and Dunnings to the perpetrator, but by that time, the statute of limitations had run out and officials would not be able to take him to trial, Dunnings said.

And since then, Shawn D’Annunzio has been active in supporting a bill that would extend the length of the statute of limitations for crimes such as kidnapping, attempted murder and manslaughter from 10 years to 20 years.

It is Senate Bill 726, called Brandon D’Annunzio’s law.

Around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, Shawn D’Annunzio patiently sat between her mother and Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III, appearing relaxed, waiting her time to testify to the committee about the bill on behalf of her late son at the Anderson House Office Building, 124 N. Capitol Ave.

The bill passed through the full Senate on Feb. 7 and has reached the House Judiciary Committee.

It needs now to be voted and passed by the House committee and the full House of Representatives, in hopes it eventually will be presented to and passed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who sponsored and wrote the bill, said he anticipates it will be passed into law before the end of the year.

“I just want my son to be proud of me and (know) he didn’t die in vain,” Shawn D’Annunzio said when she addressed the committee as her voice began to crack with emotion. “I’m begging you, please pass this bill as soon as possible and let me go on with my life because I don’t think I can go on anymore. … I need this closure.”

Although the bill will not be voted on until the next committee meeting, which is set for Nov. 8, Committee Chair John J. Walsh said at the present time, he is not aware of any opposition to the bill and it is expected to be voted on at the top of that meeting.

Jones said looking at advances in science, specifically advances with DNA, unsolved cases involving kidnapping, attempted murder and manslaughter now can be concluded.

“With modern sciences, so many cold cases can be solved and be brought to justice,” Jones said.

Shawn D’Annunzio said if the bill were to pass, she would be able to move on in her life and not have the burden of the unsolved case hanging above her.

“Hopefully, everything gets worked out, and when we find out, it (could) be the best Christmas that we could ever have,” she said after testifying as her eyes slightly filled with tears.

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