Boomer's Law changes penalty in aggravated assault deaths - WSMV Channel 4

Boomer's Law changes penalty in aggravated assault deaths

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Richard "Boomer" Smith Richard "Boomer" Smith

A single punch to the head at a late-night party cost a young Monterey man his life. While the medical examiner called Richard "Boomer" Smith's death murder, state law didn't.

Now, there's a new law to change that, and it bears the young victim's name.

Smith's family was devastated and angry when they found out their son's attacker would only be charged with aggravated assault. They started a campaign to change that, and this week their efforts resulted in Boomer's Law.

"I loved him dearly, and I'll miss him always," said father Richard Smith.

State law dictated prosecutors would only be able to charge Boomer's attacker with aggravated assault.

"I was angry at the district attorney's office. I was angry at the sheriff's office. And I was really upset with the state of Tennessee," Richard Smith said.

Richard Smith took his fight to the state capitol, where he met with lawmakers, made phone calls and even started a petition drive.

In the end, the legislature unanimously passed Boomer's Law, which creates a much tougher penalty for an aggravated assault that ends in death.

"I want to thank each one of them for what they did, and I want to thank the governor for signing it," Richard Smith said.

While it doesn't bring back Boomer, his father said it could help another family avoid his own anguish, when a punishment doesn't fit the crime.

"It's an honor my family appreciates. I'd much rather have him back," Richard Smith said.

As with many laws that increase penalties, the biggest hurdle was the increased costs of incarceration time.

In fact, Richard Smith's biggest concern was whether the bill would make it out of finance committee.

Of course, it did, and Boomer's Law took effect on Monday.

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