Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina House members overwhelmingly passed "Britny's Law" Thursday by a vote of 110-2.
To convict someone of first-degree murder in North Carolina, prosecutors usually must prove premeditation, meaning the person thought about what he or she was doing before carrying out the crime. The only time that isn't the case is under the felony murder rule, where someone kills another person during the commission of a crime, such as an armed robbery or a rape.
Senate Bill 600 would add domestic violence homicides to that list in cases where the defendant has a history of domestic violence.
The bill is titled "Britny's Law" in memory of Britny Jordan Puryear, a 22-year-old who was shot and killed by her live-in boyfriend, Logan McLean, in their Fuquay-Varina home on Nov. 6, 2014, after a four-year abusive relationship.
McLean pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder in the case and is now serving a 32-year prison sentence.
Britny's father, Stephen Puryear, was in the House gallery Thursday when lawmakers voted in favor of the law.
"It was a great feeling to see Britny honored like that," he said.
In its initial form, Britny's Law would make it easier for prosecutors to pursue a first-degree murder charge in cases with a past pattern of abuse. In the legislative process, the bill was changed to require an actual prior conviction.
"The original intent was to help girls like Britny who are getting abused," Puryear said.
Family members say the history of violence was well-documented in Britny's case. But there was no related conviction against McLean before her death.
"Britny's Law, as of now, would not have helped Britny, and that is one thing we are disappointed in, but it is a great first step," Puryear said.
The bill is now on Gov. Roy Cooper's desk for review.