State Senator Keith Perry, R-District 8, introduced a bill in the Florida Legislature in memory of Rex and Brody Reinhart, two Alachua County boys who were murdered last year.
The bill, SB 1550, or the Rex and Brody Reinhart Act, limits access to the autopsy reports of minors whose deaths relate to domestic abuse and ensures parents aren’t subject to details of their children’s death.
Currently, Florida’s public access laws allow autopsy reports, including photos, videos and audio, to be released to the media and the public through public records requests, even if it’s against the wish of the parent.
Minde Reinhart, the mother of Rex, 14, and Brody, 11, spoke on Wednesday to the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs before its vote on the bill.
“From the second they walked in and told me what had happened, I made it very clear to all my friends and family that I didn’t want to know any of the details of their murders,” Reinhart said to the committee.
She said her sons were well-known throughout Florida for their involvement in baseball, and within hours of news breaking, hundreds of videos in their memory were posted on TikTok and other social media.
When she found out the autopsy reports would be released, Reinhart said she begged the media not to cover it. However, within hours of the release, she heard from friends and family that the information was on local news. (Editor’s note: Mainstreet Daily News made the editorial decision not to post the details of the autopsy report.)
Reinhart came across the information she had wanted to avoid while on the internet.
“And I found out—just from reading the headline—way too much that I never wanted to know about my sons’ deaths,” Reinhart said. “It was an awful experience.”
Reinhart said children who were just starting the healing process also encountered the information when it came on the news. That’s why she said the new bill is needed.
“I don’t want anyone else, any other child, to find out the way that their friends were murdered, and I don’t want any other grieving parents to know what I made it very clear that I did not want to know,” Reinhart said.
Perry also spoke before the committee on Wednesday and added an amendment to the bill in order to officially name it in honor of Rex and Brody.
He also said that he was unaware this could happen under Florida law until it occurred in his district.
“Being able to rectify this now is important, and I ask for your favorable support,” Perry said.
He introduced the bipartisan bill along with Minority Leader Sen. Lauren Book, D-District 32, on Jan. 5.
The bill was referred to two committees. It passed through the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on Tuesday and arrived at the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday.
Depending on how the bill moves forward, it may need to demonstrate “public necessity” under the Florida Constitution. The bill does so by relating how the public autopsy details can affect surviving family and friends: “As such, these reports often contain highly sensitive descriptions of the deceased which, if heard, viewed, copied, or publicized, could result in trauma, sorrow, humiliation, or emotional injury to the immediate family of the deceased and the deceased’s minor friends, as well as injury to the memory of the deceased.”
If the bill expands and needs to demonstrate public necessity, a two-thirds vote may be required by both chambers of the Florida Legislature.