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Lawmakers look to expand Son of Sam law to cover spouses in wake of Gilgo Beach case

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(NEW YORK) — Two New York lawmakers are pushing to expand a law that prohibits convicts from profiting from their crime to also prevent spouses from profiting after the estranged wife of the Gilgo Beach murder suspect signed a deal with a production company.

New York’s Son of Sam law — named after the 1970s New York City serial killer David Berkowitz, who was known as Son of Sam — seeks to keep convicts from making money off of book and movie deals connected to their crimes.

New York has had the law on its books since 1977, but the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it and similar laws unconstitutional in 1991. The state amended the law in 2001.

Now, New York state Sen. Kevin Thomas and New York state Assemblymember Fred Thiele want to expand the law to cover spouses and other relatives of convicted criminals.

“With the alarming reality of media companies exploiting tragedy for profit, my hope is that victims are given the opportunity to receive the justice and compensation they deserve,” Thomas said. “New York has a long history of blocking people convicted of a crime from benefiting from their illegal activity. My legislation aims to take it a step further to ensure that media deals surrounding a crime are subject to the same transparency and accountability as the perpetrator themselves. No one should be profiting off a crime.”

The proposed legislation is expected to come up for debate in early 2024.

The lawmakers’ proposal comes as Asa Ellerup, the estranged wife of Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann, is under contract with a production company, according to her attorney.

She attended Heuermann’s most recent court appearance with a camera crew following her.

Ellerup filed for divorce six days after Heuermann was arrested in July for the murders of three sex workers.

Heuermann is accused of killing Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello, whose bodies were found on Long Island in 2010. He has pleaded not guilty.

Heuermann is also the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, who vanished in 2007, though he has not been charged in that case. Prosecutors said the investigation into Brainard-Barnes’ murder is ongoing.

Heuermann is due back in court on Feb. 6.

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