Criminal Justice

Koehl Act Has U.S. House Approval to Disinter Certain Veterans

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December 11, 2013 — A new federal proposal would allow removal of a veteran’s grave from a national cemetery for people convicted of capital crimes, based on an Indiana case.

The House has passed legislation that instructs the Veterans Affairs Department to unearth the remains of an Army veteran buried with military honors after police said he killed an Indianapolis woman and injured three others before taking his own life.

Current law prohibits military burials in national cemeteries for those who commit capital crimes, but it doesn’t make provisions for removing a veteran who is buried in violation of that law.

That’s what happened in the case of Michael LeShawn Anderson.  He was buried last year in Michigan’s Fort Custer National Cemetery after police said he fatally shot Alicia Dawn Koehl.

The VA said it found out about the circumstances surrounding Anderson’s death only after he had been buried and it needed authorization from Congress to remedy the mistake.

The legislation has the title, Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act, and it gives both the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of the Army authority to disinter ineligible veterans buried in national cemeteries who have committed a federal or state capital crime.


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