Rep. Horn introduces bill to toughen abuse penalties

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 06:48 PM

 The mother of a severely injured child said Thursday she hopes a proposed North Carolina law named for her daughter will ensure the length of punishments fit crimes for abuse.

Kirbi Davenport of Concord brought her daughter to a Legislative Building news conference to discuss a House proposal sponsored by Democrats and Republicans.

 "Kilah's Law" would require longer sentences for felony child abuse convictions. The maximum penalty for the most serious crime would increase from roughly 15 years to 33 years. A judge also would make clear on the offender's record that a child was the victim.

 "These children's lives are altered for the rest of their lives," Kirbi Davenport said, while some abuse offenders may only get several years in prison. "That's ridiculous," she added.

Kilah was 3 years old last May when authorities say she was severely beaten and almost died in Union County. Her injuries forced doctors to remove a part of her skull to reduce swelling in her brain. Her stepfather, Joshua W. Houser, is charged with felony child abuse and faces a court date next month.

"Nothing is more important than protecting our children, and this bill is an effort to do just that," Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, one of the bill's primary sponsors, said in a statement.

 Kilah doesn't walk and has to be fed, her mother said in an interview.

 "My baby's a prisoner in her own body," Kirbi Davenport said. "My baby's going to get justice, but it's not the correct justice. And the next one will get the correct justice."