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New Law Makes It Easier To Seek Murder Charges For Domestic Violence

North Carolina legislative building
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A domestic violence bill named for a woman who was shot and killed by her boyfriend is now law. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the measure known as Britny's Law on Tuesday.

The law's namesake comes from Britny Puryear, whose parents wanted to seek first-degree murder charges in her death, but were told juries rarely hand down such convictions in domestic violence cases.

Instead, Logan McLean pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, avoiding the possibility of the death penalty.

Britny's Law now allows prosecutors to use a perpetrator's history of domestic violence against the victim as evidence of premeditated murder.

Britny's father, Steven Puryear, stood next to Cooper as he signed the bill.

“Britny got along with everyone,” Puryear said. “In this day and age, where so many people disagree on so many things, one thing Britny has done is brought Republicans and Democrats together in North Carolina on an issue that affects so many different people: domestic violence.”

Cooper signed two other bills that he says also strengthen state laws against domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a crime that destroys families and lives,” Cooper said in a statement. “These new laws give survivors of domestic violence more ways to protect themselves, and law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to hold perpetrators of domestic violence responsible for their crimes.”
 
According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 82 people lost their lives due to domestic violence last year in North Carolina. And this year, domestic violence has taken the lives of 37 North Carolinians.
 
“Too often domestic violence killers escape full justice, because prosecutors struggle to convince juries that these offenders’ crimes meet the definition of first degree murder under current law. We must keep working to ensure those who commit the crime of domestic violence face the justice they deserve,” Cooper said.
 

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