‘Lauren’s Law’ Looks to Redefine Capital Murder Age Coverage
In the aftermath of the murder of Lauren Landavazo, a new bill has been introduced that would redefine the role the victim's age plays in prosecution of murder.
In cases of first-degree murder, the age of the victim goes to determine if the suspect will be charged with a capital crime. Before 2011, the murdering of a child under 6-years-old would immediately be considered a capital offense. The age limit was then changed to 10, but H.B. 3894, called 'Lauren's Law' in honor of Lauren Landavazo, seeks to up the age cut off to 15. According to Wichita Falls Rep. James Frank,
Everybody’s child feels like their child no matter how old they are. This senseless and tragic loss of life is always a bad thing, and I felt like there shouldn’t be a difference in the penalty for murdering a 9-year-old than murdering a 12-year-old.
With the current Texas Penal Code, Kodey Lott, the man charged with the murder of Lauren and the shooting of her friend Makayla, would have only been charged with a capital crime had both victims died. If passed, the bill wouldn't affect Lott's case, but would go into effect September 1st of this year, benefiting future victims' families, according to Lauren's mother Bianka,
I think it’s an amazing thing to help future families. There will be more in the future, kids are being murdered unfortunately. They’ll have the tools on the table though that we don’t have to make sure these perpetrators don’t go back on the street again.
According to Times Record News, murder is a first-degree felony in Texas, carrying the possibility of life in prison, or a sentence anywhere between 5 and 99 years. A capital felony will allow the state to seek the death penalty, or make life in the prison the mandatory sentence if the death penalty isn't sought.