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Bill targets domestic violence

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By PHILIP SAYBLACK
Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Local officials and residents are speaking out about a bill that could allow for harsher punishment in domestic violence homicides.

Senate Bill 600, also know as Britny’s Law, recently made its way through the N.C. General Assembly and is waiting for Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature. A petition for the bill’s creation was started in March on Change.org and was signed by almost 3,000 people, leading to the bill being filed in April.

The legislation will allow prosecutors to pursue first-degree murder charges against suspects accused of killing family members or significant others if the suspects previously have been convicted of domestic crimes against them. 

Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore said he supports this latest update to the state’s homicide laws.

“I support the General Assembly’s revision of enhanced murder sentencing for individuals that have been previously convicted of a domestic violence offense involving the same victim that they are being charged for their murder.”

Spring Hope Police Chief Anthony Puckett agreed.

“I do agree with the bill and the wording,” Puckett said. “Domestic violence is an increasing violence that may begin with something as simple as an argument or push, but often the violence increases throughout the relationship when the aggressor refuses to get help. While there may not be pre-meditation in the crime, as it is with first-degree murder, there is an increase in violence, which could satisfy the element of pre-meditation.”

Puckett added domestic violence victims need to know where to get help. My Sister’s House of North Carolina, which has offices in Nashville, Tarboro and Rocky Mount, offers shelter to domestic violence victims.

Victor Jones, Valiant Families PC owner, said early treatment for aggressors is also needed so that domestic violence cases do not become homicides.

“If we want to stop domestic violence, we must commit to providing the accountability and resources that offenders need to change as early as possible,” Jones said. “Rather than wait until bodily injury or homicide happens, we need to act in the early stages while everybody is still alive.”

Senate Bill 600 is named in memory of Britny Joyner Puryear, then 22, of Fuquay-Varina, who was fatally shot in Nov. 2014 by her then-boyfriend Logan McClean in the couple’s home in Fuquay-Varina.

McClean pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case in 2015 and was sentenced to 32 years behind bars for the crime. Records revealed McClean had a past history of violence when he killed Puryear. The couple had a five-month-old child together at the time of Puryear’s death.

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