Rex and Brody Act passed by legislature on second try

Image courtesy Minde O’Sullivan


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Minde Prince O’Sullivan is relieved that other families will not have to endure media coverage of autopsy reports of their children, now that the Rex and Brody Act has been passed by the legislature.

O’Sullivan’s sons, Rex and Brody, grew up in Gainesville and were killed by their father in a murder-suicide in Dixie County in May 2021; O’Sullivan was forced to relive the trauma of their murders when media outlets acquired the autopsy report later that year and ran stories about the findings. O’Sullivan said she never wanted to know the details of their final moments, and she was also concerned that Rex and Brody’s friends were able to easily find the details of their murders in media reports because she believes children should be protected from graphic descriptions of violence.

Senator Keith Perry introduced the bill in the 2022 legislative session and Rep. Chuck Clemons introduced a companion bill that passed in the House, but the Senate bill was withdrawn a few days before the end of the session; this year’s bill, though, passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. When the bill is signed by the governor, it will go into effect immediately and will be retroactive.

Senator Keith Perry said, “The Rex and Brody Act is a crucial step in protecting the privacy and
dignity of minors who have lost their lives. It is heartbreaking to see families endure additional
pain and suffering due to the public release of autopsy reports involving their loved ones. We
must do everything in our power to prevent such situations from ever occurring again.”

The law prohibits the release without a court order of any photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a minor, and the bill states that its purpose is to protect survivors from emotional harm and to prevent crimes that might be committed by mentally ill or “morally corrupt” people who may view the material. A provision in the bill also requires that a surviving parent be given reasonable notice of a petition filed with the court to access the material and an opportunity to be present at any hearing about that petition.

The law also provides that an autopsy report of a minor whose death was related to an act of domestic violence is confidential and exempt from Sunshine laws except for a surviving parent who did not commit the act of domestic violence. A surviving parent must also be given reasonable notice of a petition filed with the court to access the autopsy report.

O’Sullivan said, “This bill won’t help me, but it will help other families who won’t have to go through what we went through. This bill will protect families, friends, and children for many, many years to come.”