Thursday evening, Alabama Legislators gave final approval to “Hollie’s Law,” which makes the murder of a parent or guardian a capital offense if it is committed in the presence of a minor younger than 14.
The bill, which has taken three years and a concerted effort by many to pass, was sponsored by Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Greenhill) and is named for Hollie Newbury, a 24-year old mother who was shot and killed by her ex common-law husband, Christopher Rich, in December of 2009 while her two young children, ages 5 and 15 months at that time, were in the car. Rich, who pleaded guilty to capital murder in August of 2011, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Because Newbury was killed while Rich was taking her car, authorities were able to charge Rich with capital murder. After he shot Newbury, Rich drove away with the children inside the car – and that was the only thing which made the crime a capital offense.
Under “Hollie’s Law,” such actions would automatically be a capital offense.