‘Corey’s Law:’ House proposal aims to preserve evidence in Missouri stabbing cases

Missouri House Members are looking for the right way to make sure evidence is not discarded when a person is stabbed or shot.

Corey Laykovich (right) and his mother, Michelle Metje, along with his two brothers. (photo from the family)

The bill is known as Corey’s Law for Corey Laykovich, who at the age of 22 died in a hospital after being stabbed in 2013.  The investigation of his stabbing was hindered when his clothing was discarded while he was being treated in the hospital, eliminating the possibility that DNA evidence on that clothing might have found his killer.

A man pleaded guilty to the crime five years later and was sentenced to 9 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.  Corey’s mother, Michelle Metje, believes his sentence could have been longer if the evidence had been secured.

“I like to make the point that [the man who stabbed Corey] … during the time between the time he killed my son and the time he was arrested, he was arrested eight other times … three of which were heinous crimes against individuals.  These are eight other victims that are being put through this because of what happened in the very early stages of my son’s investigation,” said Metje.

House Bill 2086 would require emergency rooms to have a secure storage unit for forensic evidence collected while treating the victim of a gunshot or stab wound.  It would require three hours of annual training for ER staff on the collection of evidence, and that ERs have evidence collection kits.  It would also require ER staff to report to law enforcement the treatment of any stab wound that is more than an inch deep.

“In the State of Missouri if it’s a gunshot wound it’s reported to the police department immediately.  If it is a dog bite it is reported to the police department, however if it’s a stabbing wound there is no indication that they have to report that.  As a matter of fact they’re told by their legal department not to report it,” said bill sponsor Rory Rowland (D-Independence).

Rowland said the loss of evidence such as in Corey’s case is “not uncommon.”

Michelle Metje and Representative Rory Rowland (Photo: Mike Lear, Missouri House Communications)

“My goal here is not to embarrass law enforcement.  My goal here is not to embarrass hospitals.  They all have a very difficult job, but … When they’re working in a situation like this and you’ve got someone whose got mortal wounds or extremely serious wounds, number one their job is to save a life and we want them all to do that.  However when you do in fact have a fatality and that person may, in fact, have been murdered … we need to make sure that we protect the evidence,” said Rowland.

The bill was presented to the House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety.  Lawmakers on that panel voiced support for the concept of the bill but discussed with Rowland the need to change the language, particularly concerning stab wounds of once inch deep or less.

“I would rather err on the side of caution,” said Representative Justin Hill (R-Lake St. Louis), a former law enforcement officer.  “’Cause a one inch stab wound in the neck is deadly.  A one inch stab wound in the buttocks is not.”

Rowland agreed the language of the bill could need some changes and said he is open to exploring those.

Since her son’s death, Metje and Corey’s stepfather, Robert Norris, turned her social work background into Corey’s Network, Inc.  It provides support, advocacy, and services to homicide victims in the Kansas City metropolitan police precincts that have no such advocates.

Metje told the Committee the legislation is not a continuation of those efforts.

“We’re not proposing this for Corey nor for our family.  We are creating it for the parents and families that will lose a loved one to homicide in the future,” said Metje.

The Committee has not voted on the legislation.