Lisa Knelson, 47

Special tribute to Lisa Knelson, 47, of Kildrummy Drive, Durham, a wife and mother who spent years working to help people with mental disabilities was killed Oct. 5, 2006, when a stolen car sped through a red light, police say.

Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the driver was not being pursued by police at the time of the crash. It was reported that the officer knew the vehicle was stolen and attempted a traffic stop and did flash his lights.

The Durham News Editorial
... A Durham Police Department officer spotted the stolen SUV on the ride that would end in a fatal collision. When the officer turned on his siren and lights, the stolen SUV sped away, and the police department's policy prohibited the officer from pursuing. ....

(Candy Priano's response to the above editorial: Yes, we blame the driver first. However, did the officer expect the driver of a stolen vehicle to pull over appropriately? See a similar story:Kathryn "Katie" Bogosian-Langley.

I also support Robert Knelson's plea to change the Interstate Compact (see letter at right.)

Sentencing: Not Enough. The driver of the car (Shawn Maurice Powell) who hit Lisa Knelson's car has now been convicted and is serving a 10 year sentence.

A Letter for Mommy
by Robert John Knelson

An excerpt from this letter written to 15 state representatives for the state of North Carolina (pdf):

... It is blatantly clear that the judicial system is broken in more ways than one.  Powell was not hard to find and violated his probation numerous times, which under normal circumstances would lead to a warrant for his arrest.  This cumbersome process of transferring interstate warrants needs to be revised.  Probation officers also need to be more carefully selected and need to have more pride in their work.  It is evident that Hager did not do his job thoroughly.  One action I suggest you take is to make sure that there is a review of the Interstate Compact Office in Raleigh.  More importantly,  a new interstate compact needs to be created so that if a warrant is requested with valid evidence for the need of it, the other state involved must grant and transfer the warrant within a certain period of time, such as two weeks. It should be easier for probation officers to directly obtain warrants from other states.  New legislation is required so that this system does not fail again and so that other families do not have to experience a similar loss.

I believe that my father, Mark Knelson, sums it up best when he says, “I just think it’s sad that anybody’s life can be taken by somebody who should be incarcerated.”  My father also stated, “The fact of the matter is it’s difficult to blame him (Powell) because he’s demonstrated so many times he’s not a responsible person.  It’s really up to us, society, to keep him in a place where he can’t hurt people.”

This is my plea for you to take action and to change the Interstate Compact so that as a result innocent victims are not harmed because a warrant is not transferred in due time. 

My father will never again kiss his wife goodnight or look into her eyes.  My family has endured a lot, but we accept my mother’s death and know that we cannot change that.  What can be changed though is the Interstate Compact and the time allowed transferring a warrant from another state to North Carolina and that is what you need to do so that other families are spared. 


Robert John Knelson