RALEIGH -- The statistics are startling. Every nine seconds a women is assaulted or beaten in the United States. In North Carolina, one family's crusade to make their daughter's domestic violence death help others, has led to a new law aimed at harsher penalties for abusers. On Friday, Britny’s Law will go into effect.
This is now the third year that Britny Puryear's family will be going through the holiday season without their daughter by their side. They remember her last Christmas with family.
"I remember her being very excited,” says Shelley Puryear, Britny’s mom. “She had found out she was pregnant so she was very excited.”
22-year-old Britny Puryear was killed in November of 2014 by her boyfriend, Logan McLean. McLean took a plea deal for second-degree murder and will serve 26 to 32 years in prison, but Britny's parent believe he deserved a harsher punishment.
“Thought we were going to trial all year for first degree,” says Stephen Puryear, Britny’s dad, “but at the last minute the DA decided to give him a plea deal for second degree.”
Stories like Britny's are all too common in North Carolina.
“Last year in 2016 alone there were 82 domestic violence homicides,” says Amily McCool with the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “This year, as of about a month ago, the last time we tracked, there were already 65 intimate partner violence homicides. So it’s a huge problem.”
Under a new law signed by Governor Roy Cooper, there is now another tool for prosecutors looking to try someone under a higher charge. Britny's Law creates a rebuttable presumption of premeditation if someone has prior domestic violence convictions against the victim.
"Before prosecutors in order to be able to pursue first-degree had to be able to prove pre-meditation,” says McCool, “and that was difficult because a lot of times juries just have a lot of myths about domestic violence. About it just being that couples fight. “
For the Puryears, they say they believe there is still work to do to broaden the law to help more potential victims. In the meantime, they say they will celebrate as they can, with Britny's son by the their side - remembering her.
“Jordan and I were watching The Voice last week and one of the contestants lost and started crying,” says Stephen, “And he said ‘she's crying daddy. Does she miss Britny too?'”
The Puryears say they want to continue to work with lawmakers to see if they can expand the options for prosecutors looking to charge intimate partners with first degree murder.
If you are in an abusive relationship and need help, or know someone else who needs help, you can log on to: www.enoughnc.org
If you would like to help the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, you can log on to: https://nccadv.org/donate