By Justin Jones, Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 —
Albemarle City Council approved a resolution that has been approved by more than 20 municipalities across the region.
The approval, which passed unanimously, was in support of Kilah’s Law, a resolution that supports a stiffer punishment for one that inflicts permanent debilitating injury to a child.
Jeff Gerber, founder of the Justice for All Coalition, presented the history behind Kilah’s Law.
Kilah Davenport was abused by her stepfather, Joshua Houser, while she was entrusted into his care. Gerber said that Kilah sustained a broken clavicle, fractured skull and 90 percent brain damage. A doctor’s early diagnosis told the family that Kilah may not ever recover, but Kilah has since returned home from the incident which occurred in May and is now recovering and relearning many basic functions as a 3-year-old girl.
“What Kilah’s law will do is raise sentencing guidelines from a Class C felony to a Class B felony with the intent to give the judicial system the tools they need to implement a much harsher punishment to fit the magnitude of the crime,” Gerber said.
A Class C felony carries 44-93 months in prison. A Class B felony requires a minimum of 94 or 144 months in prison depending on the class, with a maximum sentence of about 300 months.
Gerber said that having Albemarle included in the support of Kilah’s Law shows the seriousness communities place on child safety and intolerance of abuse. According to Gerber, the draft will be presented on the first day when the state legislature reconvenes next year.
Russ Freeze, a volunteer with Justice for All Coalition, said that while Kilah recovers for the remainder of her life, Houser will be released from jail.
“This law will not effect the man that did this to her, he’s going to get out. We’re trying to stop the next one,” Freeze said.
Before their meeting, Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley asked for a moment of silence and remembrance for the victims and families involved in the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. at Sandy Hook Elementary School.