Family still pushing for stricter domestic violence punishments as 'Britny's Law' takes effect
Posted November 30, 2017 5:18 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:55 a.m. EDT
Britny Puryear was shot and killed in 2014 by her live-in boyfriend, Logan McLean, after a four-year abusive relationship.
McLean pleaded guilty and is now serving a 32-year prison sentence for second-degree murder, but Puryear’s parents were hoping for a first-degree murder conviction, so they took action.
The couple reached out to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and worked to get a bill drafted that would hand down stricter punishments in domestic violence homicide cases.
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.
Amily McCool, the legal and policy director for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she did some research and found a law in Minnesota where a domestic violence homicide can be charged as first-degree murder.
“So, based on that research, we sort of talked about how to model possible legislation here in North Carolina after what Minnesota already does,” McCool said. “We felt that it was really important because so much of domestic violence is in the shadows. It’s not in the criminal justice system and doesn’t result in prosecution and convictions.”
In its initial form, Britny’s Law would make it easier for prosecutors to pursue first-degree murder charges in cases with a past pattern of abuse. However, during the legislative process, the bill was changed to require an actual prior conviction for the offender.
The Puryears are glad the law named after their daughter is about to take effect, however, they said they are still hoping to improve it in an effort to help even more victims in the future.
“It wasn’t our original intention, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction, and hopefully we can continue to work with the legislators and improve the law and help even more victims in the future,” McCool said.
Britny’s law will go into effect Dec. 1.
“Britny was an athlete and an A/B honor roll student, hard worker and friend. If it happened to Britny, it can happen to anybody,” said Britny’s father, Stephen Puryear. “We’re still concerned about improving the law to help more victims.”