Georgia sex offender to serve life for failing to register

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News 12 at 11 o'clock, August 8, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Georgia's tough sex offender law restricts many places sex offenders are allowed to live. Now one man is serving a life in prison sentence for failing to register as sex offender.

From ABC News to the New York Times, a convicted Augusta sex offender is making national headlines after being sentenced to life for failing to register. "I don't think it's fair," said parent Ekyiena Lawrence.

Under Georgia law, sex offenders are required to give authorities an address within 72 hours of moving, but 40-year-old Larry Wayne Moore Jr. told a jury he couldn't because he was homeless. He says he was forced to sleep on the streets because of Georgia's strict sex offender laws that require them to be 1,000 feet away from where children may congregate. Since this was Moore's second offense for failing to register, it carries an automatic life sentence.

"He should've known the first time he had to register. I believe he knew what he was doing and I think he should get it," said Jennifer Lott.

Moore was convicted more than 10 years ago in North Carolina for indecent liberty with a child. Sgt. Ray Hardin says being homeless is no excuse. "They're not top notch citizens," he said.

But critics argue the law is too severe. Take for example South Carolina, where a first offense for failing to register is considered a misdemeanor, a second offense is also a misdemeanor requiring one year in prison, and a third offense is a felony given only five years.

Lawrence, a mother of two, says while she doesn't sympathize with Moore, she thinks the punishment doesn't fit the crime. "It's very steep. People don't get half the time for actually committing the sexual act, so why would he get it for not reporting he's a sex offender?"

Public Defender Sam Sibley plans to appeal Moore's case in court. He tells News 12 this case is an example of cruel and unusual punishment.

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