LUMBERTON, N.C. — Kayla Hammonds was a people person. That’s one of the things her family says people should know about her. She was fun, funny and loved animals. She surrounded herself with great friends and her family.

“Her 16th birthday party, I was only expecting maybe 20, 25 kids. I think a hundred kids showed up. I was like 'Oh, my gosh, where’s all these people coming from?' And the same way with both for baby showers, I was like 'Oh, maybe 10, 15 people.' And there were so many people there, it was unreal,” her mother, Sherry Hammonds, said.

It’s been a few months since they lost Kayla Hammonds and that light in their lives.

What You Need To Know

  •  Kayla Hammonds was killed in November 2022

  •  Her mother says she was trying to get out of a domestic abuse situation

  •  A bill named Kayla's Act would change the court requirements for victims if passed

  • Her family says there were times she was too afraid to show up to court because of the threats

It’s a nightmare, her mother says, and her father, Jimmy Hammonds, says it’s always on his mind.

“I go to work, so I keep it off my mind, and I work all the time. Just I don't want to think about it all the time. Because when I get home as I'm so, I'm shut out. You know, from my friends, from talking on the phone. I don’t do nothing,” Hammonds said.

Kayla Hammonds' younger sister Morgan says she lost her best friend.

Kayla Hammonds was killed in November outside a Food Lion when she was out with her two children.

Her ex-partner, Desmond Lee Sampson, has been charged with her murder and is awaiting trial.

“To do that in broad daylight in a parking lot full of people in front of her kids, but that's what he said he was going to do. He told her. I mean, I've got the message on my cellphone where he told her that he wanted to cut her throat in front of her family, and that’s exactly what he did,” Sherry Hammonds said.

Hammonds says her daughter was caught in a domestic violence situation, and, like so many others, she had tried to get out. She was determined to get out, Sherry Hammonds said.

Kayla Hammonds had filed protective orders against Sampson, but when it came time to go to court, there were times that the fear was too much.

There were other times the judicial system just failed Kayla Hammonds, her family said.

“I was with her in court, and we got a text message that they had videos of him stabbing her tires while we were sitting in court, and he didn't show up. He was too busy outside putting out her tires in front of our godfather's office,” Morgan Hammonds said.

“I know she missed some court dates, but when your life is being threatened the way hers was, not only hers, but her kids. Yeah. You're not going to show up in court. You're going to do everything you can to protect your family,” Sherry Hammonds said.

While the family would always rather have Kayla Hammonds here, they’re hoping something good can come out of the situation.

A piece of legislation, Kayla’s Act, was filed in the state Senate, and would change some of the requirements in domestic violence cases.

Victims would be able to appear remotely.

The Hammonds family doesn't understand why a step like this hasn’t happened before, but they hope it helps future survivors.

“It would mean a lot to me because I'm a victim. I'm a survivor. I went through it. In a matter of fact, I had to call her numerous of times to come help me. Luckily, I got out of my situation, and I'm still here today. And that's why I'm so heavy on getting it pushed, because I know what it's like,” Kayla Hammonds’ cousin Aundrea McNeill said.

It doesn’t bring her back, but it’s something to fight for.

“She would be very happy knowing that she could help one female, even a man, because men get abuse too, get out of the situation that she was in. She would love that,” Sherry Hammonds said.