A Scottsdale family in grief over a relative’s murder is calling on lawmakers to extend prison sentences for inmates who commit a serious offense while incarcerated.
The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Monday, the opening day of the 2007 legislative session. If such law already existed, family members of murder victim Nicole Traxler, a single mother and popular restaurateur, said they believe she still would be alive today.
Traxler, 36, was shot several times in her north Scottsdale home on Mother’s Day as her 12-year-old son hid in a bedroom closet.
Thomas Bliven, who shot and killed himself the next day, was a former high school boyfriend of Traxler’s. He spent 14 years in prison for the second-degree murder of another high school girlfriend.
He was released in August 2005, despite committing 57 major and minor violations in prison, including a conviction in 1999 for splashing boiling water on another inmate’s face that caused seconddegree burns, according to court and state documents.
For that offense, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kelly Marie Robertson sentenced Bliven to 3 1/2 years, to be served concurrently — or at the same time — with his second-degree murder sentence.
Traxler’s father, Frank Meglio, who had to retire from his restaurant business because of injuries he received when he was shot during a robbery at his business in 1977, said he believes the hearing for the bill is a step in the right direction.
“If someone would’ve taken a look at the violations this guy had in prison and had the guts to stand up, he would’ve said this guy isn’t getting out,” said Meglio, who plans to testify at the hearing with Traxler’s brother-in-law.
“I hope the bill makes it. I lost a beautiful daughter, and a beautiful person I loved dearly.”
The court deemed the incident as nondangerous and likely to be nonrepetitive, according to court documents.
Senate Bill 1020, which was drafted by Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, has been in the works since June, and will be heard by the eight-member Judiciary Committee about 2:30 p.m. Monday.
It would take away a judge’s discretion to make prison offenses concurrent and require inmates to stay in prison longer if they are found guilty of committing serious offenses.
“The facts of the case involving Nicole Traxler are obvious that Thomas Bliven should’ve stayed in prison longer,” Waring said.
“He was a violent, deranged person, judging from his past. A 3 1/2-year sentence for throwing hot water in someone’s face seemed too short, and should’ve been added onto his current sentence. I hope this bill passes on its own merits.”
Traxler’s sister, Michelle Macklin, has pushed for such a bill since May. Macklin said she’s happy to see that a bill involving consecutive sentences for inmate offenders is moving forward.
“It’s a good start,” Macklin said. “Although it won’t bring Nikki back, it could save other peoples’ lives.
“If a judge would’ve added on Bliven’s conviction to his current sentence, he’d still be in prison and Nikki would still be alive.
“We’ve been writing letters in support of such a bill since Nikki’s murder, hoping to get the attention of senators and anybody who would listen.”