The Texas House passed Senate Bill (SB) 719, known as Lauren’s Law, today.
The bill asks to raise criminal sentencing penalties for murder of a victim over the age of 10 and under the age of 15.
The bill was passed in the Senate 31-0 and in the House 132-8. The bill now goes back to the Senate where it is expected that they will agree with the changes in the House. At that point, the bill will be sent to Governor Abbott to be signed into law.
Under current Texas law, prosecutors are given discretion to pursue capital murder charges if the victim is under the age of 10.
Lauren’s Law would raise that age to 15. and allow prosecutors to seek a life without parole sentence for anyone who murders a child between the ages of 10 and 15.
“SB 719 will ensure that the murder of children not old enough to drive is treated as the heinous crime that it is,” said Representative James B. Frank. “Prosecutors will have another tool at their disposal to make certain that the sentence fits the crime.”
After meeting with the parents of Lauren Landavazo in 2017, Rep. Frank filed a bill similar to SB 719.
Lauren was shot and murdered in September 2016 while walking home from school.
The gunman, Kody Lott, was convicted and given the maximum sentence allowed by current law, life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
“After hearing from Lauren’s parents, Vern and Bianka, I was determined to try to fix this injustice in our sentencing laws,” Rep. Frank said. “The Landavazos have courageously fought to make this happen and handled every step of the process with grace and dignity. I also applaud Senator Fallon for his work on this issue and look forward to the bill going to Governor Abbott for his signature. I am proud of the Texas Legislature for taking this action,” said Rep. Frank.
RELATED: “Lauren’s Law” passes Texas Senate
ORIGINAL STORY: Victims in Kingston Drive Shooting Identified