ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – An Illinois state representative has introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on so-called “knockout game” attackers.
The Belleville News-Democrats reports Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, has proposed House Bill 3783, the Knockout Assault Prevention Act.
The legislation would stiffen the penalty for those convicted of battery while taking part in the game, making it punishable by 3-7 years in prison. It would also ensure that any minors above the age of 14 be transferred to adult criminal court.
The knockout game involves punching strangers in an attempt to knock them unconscious with a single punch. The victims are often targeted at random by the game’s participants who are attempting to gain acceptance in a gang or prove their strength.
Knockout game attacks have been reported in a number of major cities, including St. Louis, though some criminologists doubt whether the attacks should be considered a trend.
Elex Murphy of St. Louis was 18-years-old when he punched 72-year-old Hoang Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, and his 62-year-old wife Yen as they walked home from a south St. Louis market in April of 2011.
Hoang suffered a fatal head injury in the attack, bringing national attention to knockout game attacks. Murphy was sentenced earlier this year to life in prison plus 25 years.
St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson told the Belleville News-Democrat that he agrees with Kay’s attempt to stiffen penalties for knockout game participants but disagreed with the idea of charging minors in adult criminal courts. The sheriff also questioned the need for a knockout game bill in the Metro East.
“We have not had any reports of that; that’s more of a city-type issue,” he told the newspaper. “We live in the state of Illinois, where Chicago experiences things that we simply don’t experience in southern Illinois. Around here we haven’t had the issue, and I definitely believe this is a Chicago issue … but if they introduce it and it becomes a law, we can use it.”