By Melinda Johnston
Mint Hill commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening in support of Kilah’s Law which, if passed by the North Carolina General Assembly next session, will allow tougher sentencing for certain types of child abuse.
“This law will raise the sentencing guidelines for anyone who causes the permanent debilitating physical injury of a child. Currently this crime falls under a Class C felony with a 44-92 month possible sentence. My coalition wants to raise the sentencing guidelines to a higher class of felony giving the judicial system the tools they need to implement punishment to fit the magnitude of the crime,” said Jeff Gerber, founder and spokesperson of the Justice For All Coalition.
The law comes about as a grass roots effort from the Justice For All Coalition after the May 16 beating of three year old Kilah Davenport by her stepfather. The Union County girl was hospitalized for much of the summer, after sustaining a broken clavicle, fractured skull, and damage to 90 percent of her brain.
Kilah was able to come home from the hospital on July 19, but went back in earlier this week so surgeons could replace the bone flap in the front of her skull. Though there are no more surgeries scheduled, Davenport says her granddaughter faces a long road to recovery.
Gerber says his group plans to have signed support from 100 municipalities in North Carolina before the general assembly reconvenes in January. In addition to Mint Hill, five other towns have signed on, including Waxhaw, Harrisburg, Stallings, Indian Trail and Fairview.
Next week organizers plan to take the resolution to the town of Unionville as well as the Union County Board of Commissioners.
Gerber said every town they’ve contacted so far has been overwhelmingly supportive of the law, and towns are now calling him wanting to sign on to Kilah’s Law.
Davenport says she’s very grateful to Gerber and his group. When Kilah was injured, the family wanted to put a tougher law in place but didn’t know how. She says Indian Trail Mayor Mike Alvarez put the family in touch with Gerber, who championed the cause and brought the Justice For All Coalition on board.
“This situation has brought awareness to the problems of child abuse,” Davenport said. “If we can save one child’s life, then it’s worth it. I always told Miss Kilah that she was going to be superstar. I just never knew how famous she was going to be.”
Want to know more? You can read Kilah’s story at www.teamkilah.wordpress.com You can sign an online petition at www.change.org You can sign a paper petition at Mint Hill Madness, in Mint Hill, on Sept 28-29.