OKLAHOMA CITY – To strengthen prison sentences for murder-related convictions, an Oklahoma lawmaker filed a bill that, if passed, will require felons to serve 85% of their sentences before parole is granted.
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, filed, “Lauria and Ashley’s Law,” or Senate Bill 1199 on Oct. 30. In June, State Rep. Steve Bashore filed the house version of the bill for the 2024 legislative session.
The bill adds the crime of accessory to murder in the first and second degree to the list of crimes.
The legislation is named for Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, the two 16-year-old best friends who disappeared in 1999 from Freeman’s rural Welch home. It is considered one of the state’s most infamous and heinous crimes.
Lauria Bible was Bergstrom’s former student.
The legislation will be considered during the 2024 legislative session, which convenes on February 5.
The only living suspect in the girls’ 1999 disappearance, Ronnie Busick, was released from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in May after only serving three years in connection with the brutal slayings of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the kidnapping and presumed deaths of their daughter, Ashley and her best friend Lauria.
In 2020 he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a reduced charge of accessory to felony murder. Part of the plea deal was for Busick’s sentence to be cut in half if he told investigators where Lauria and Ashley are buried. Busick repeatedly told investigators he did not know where the teens’ remains were located.
Good behavior credits have shaved off five years from Busick’s sentence. He will also be on probation for five years – the duration of the plea’s suspended sentence.
Investigators believe Warren Phillip Welch II, David Pennington and Busick went to the Freeman farm around 10 p.m. on Dec. 29, 1999, and confronted Danny Freeman over a drug debt.
The Freeman mobile home was set on fire and the body of Kathy Freeman was found in the charred and smoldering remains. Danny’s body was found the following day by the Bible family. The family’s pet Rottweiler stood guard by his body. The girls have never been seen since that day.
If anyone has information on the location of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible’s bodies, please call the OSBI at 800.522.8017.
A $50,000 reward remains active.