People in the community rallied this weekend around a little girl who, just two months ago, was clinging to life.
Kilah Davenport nearly died after she was severely beaten in May.
Joshua Houser, Kilahs 22-year-old stepfather, is charged with felony child abuse and is jailed on $1 million bond. His trial is scheduled for September in Mecklenburg Superior Court.
Doctors told Kilahs mother that Kilah would remain in a vegetative state. Since then, the 3-year-old has made slow progress with limited movement, and she left the hospital in July.
Her mother, Kirbi Davenport, said Kilah can even stand with help, but she may never fully recover.
Shes in her own little prison, said Kirbi Davenport, stuck by herself because she cant understand, Why cant I do this anymore?
Saturday, Kilah lay sleeping in a room full of people who came to support her at Crown Point Covenant Church in Matthews. The benefit barbecue drew church members and people from all over, even lawmakers.
Organizers estimated they raised $5,000 for the family. They stared at Kilahs face, and then explained that they are supporting a proposal called Kilahs Law to make sentences tougher for people convicted of child abuse.
We want stiffer penalties, said Leslie Davenport, Kilahs grandmother. The person who did this to Kilah will only spend between four and eight years in prison.
We want to protect other children, added Kirbi Davenport.
They want to change the penalty for child abuse to a Class B1 felony, which could give a person convicted of abuse 25 years to life in prison, according to Jeff Gerber of the Justice For All Coalition.
Currently, said Gerber, child abuse is a Class C felony, which results in 44 to 92 months in prison the sentence that Houser faces if convicted.
The law is being drafted, and state Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union County, has already agreed to be one of four primary sponsors.
A person that attacks a child is prosecuted at the same level as a person who attacks an adult, said Horn. Now you cant quite tell me that the abuse of a defenseless child is quite the same category as an assault on an adult that can protect themselves.
The law would also propose a child abuser registry, much like North Carolinas sex offender registry, though Horn concedes that part of the law might be harder to pass.
The town of Indian Trail, where Kilahs family lived when she was injured, will consider a resolution supporting Kilahs Law at its meeting on Aug. 14. The town of Stallings will consider it a day sooner.
Horn said he hopes to have the law drafted so it can be introduced on the first day of the 2013 legislative session in January.
Meanwhile, Kirbi Davenports parents continue to help her care for Kilah. Kirbi describes Kilah as a 28-pound infant who wants to be held all the time and can do little for herself. Compounding Kirbis workload is the fact that she is several months pregnant with another child.
She and her mother are buoyed by Kilahs small improvements, they said.
Its just going to take a little time, said Leslie Davenport. A little time and lots of prayers.