Rebecca Petty

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Rebecca Dean Petty (born April 13, 1970) [17] [2] is an advocate for victims of violent crime from Rogers, Arkansas. Her 12-year-old daughter was murdered in 1999. She is also a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for a part of Benton County in the northwestern portion of her adopted state. [3]

Background

Petty was born in Wichita, Kansas, [7] and graduated in 1988 from Hatfield High School [17] in Hatfield in Polk County, Arkansas, an institution which closed in 2005. Petty also attended Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Oklahoma, dates not available, [7] and earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 2013 from Arkansas Tech University at Russellville, at which she was an inductee of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. She since pursued a master's degree in leadership and ethics at the private John Brown University in Siloam Springs in Benton County. She lists her religious affiliation as a non-denominational Christian. [3]

Career

Her daughter, Andria Nichole "Andi" Brewer (1987-1999), was raped and strangled to death in the forest near Mena in Polk County in western Arkansas by Karl Douglas Roberts (born c. 1967) of Cove, also in Polk County, and the child's uncle by marriage. On May 24, 2000, Roberts was sentenced to die but remains among some thirty individuals on death row in Arkansas. In December 2014, Petty's former husband, Gregory Don "Greg" Brewer of Mena (born February 27, 1969), [18] physically attacked Roberts in the courtroom during longstanding proceedings in the case. There are questions about Roberts' mental competency; he has sought to waive his constitutional rights and be executed for the crime. [5] At the time of her daughter's murder, Petty was already divorced from Greg Brewer. [6]

From 2000 to 2008, Petty was the executive director of The Andi Foundation for Children. Since 2009, she has been a Crime Victim/Child Advocate consultant for the National Criminal Justice Training Center at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin. [7] She is a founding member of the Surviving Parents Coalition, a group with fights child predators. [3] Petty also works with the United States Department of Justice on training for Amber Alerts. She advocates "keeping our children safe from sexual predators by equipping our police with the tools they need to put criminals behind bars." [2] Petty's work on behalf of exploited children brought her into contact with John Walsh, host of the former America's Most Wanted television series. In 2006, she joined Walsh in lobbying for appropriations for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. [7]

Petty is active in the Benton County Republican organization. In the low-turnout primary on May 20, 2014, she defeated Margaret "Marge" Wolf (born c. 1937), a former Wisconsin resident, a member of the Rogers City Council, and the president of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. [2] Petty polleld 878 votes (55.3 percent) to Wolf's 710 (44.7 percent). The House seat was vacated by the term-limited Debra Hobbs, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor; Hobbs was defeated by Tim Griffin, the former U.S. representative for Arkansas's 2nd congressional district. Petty carried the endorsement of influential State Senator Bart Hester of Cave Springs. [2]

In the November 4 general election, Petty easily defeated the Democratic nominee, Grimsley Graham (born c. 1948), an English teacher at Rogers High School for thirty years, [8] 3,508 votes (57.8 percent) to 2,565 (42.2 percent), in a heavily Republican year statewide and nationally. [5]

Representative Petty holds these committee assignments: (1) Joint Committee on Advanced Commutations and Information Technology, (2) Judiciary, and (3) Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative, and Military Affairs. [3] In January 2015, Petty proposed legislation before the House Judiciary Committee to allow families of murder victims to witness the executions of the convicted criminals so as to gain some closure to their grief. [10] The legislation passed both houses and was soon signed into law by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson. [11] The next month Petty proposed legislation to allow executions in Arkansas by firing squad. [11]

Petty joined dozens of her fellow Republicans and two Democrats in co-sponsoring legislation in February 2015 submitted by Representative Lane Jean of Magnolia, to reduce unemployment compensation benefits. The measure was promptly signed into law by Governor Hutchinson. [6]

Petty that same month, she supported House Bill 1228, sponsored by Bob Ballinger of Carroll County, which sought to prohibit government from imposing a burden on the free exercise of religion. [9] The measure passed the House, seventy-two to twenty. [9] One of the opponents, Representative Camille Bennett, a former city attorney for Lonoke, Arkansas, called for a reworking of the legislation. [10] Bennett claimed the Ballinger bill would establish a "type of religious litmus test" which could impact nearly any law under consideration by the legislature. [11] The measure was subsequently passed by a large margin in the House and signed into law in revised form, SB 975, by Governor Hutchinson. [12]

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