RIPLEY, W.Va. — A person convicted of child abuse causing death in West Virginia will now spend more time in prison.
Emmaleigh’s Law took effect Thursday.
The law is named after Emmaleigh Barringer, a 10 month old baby girl from Jackson County, who was was sexually assaulted, strangled and later died in Oct. 2016.
The law doubles the penalty for a parent, guardian or other person convicted of child abuse causing death from 10-40 years to 20-80 years.
Benjamin Taylor, 33, of Cottageville, was charged with Barringer’s murder. He will not face the increased prison time, though.
Investigators say the incident happened Oct. 3, 2016 in the basement of a Fairplain apartment where Taylor lived with the girl’s mother, Amanda Adkins. Taylor is accused of striking and sexually assaulted the girl. She died after being taken off life support two days later.
State Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 04) introduced SB 288 after hearing the news. The heart-felt condolences for the family resulted in a review of the penalties surrounding child abuse, he said.
“We took action in the Legislature to immediately, and it passed unanimously, increase the penalties for this type of horrible crime,” Carmichael said.
Governor Jim Justice signed the bill in April.
Carmichael said he believes it’s the Legislature’s responsibility to protect West Virginia’s children.
“Everything that we can do to put a barrior in front of those who would do damage to our most precious asset, our children, we should erect those barriors immidiately,” he said.
The law, Carmichael said, also enables quicker convictions.
“There’s nothing more important for the Legislature to do than protecting the lives of our children and those who are unable to protect themselves,” he said.
According to the state Medical Examiner’s Office, Barringer died of a skull fracture.
Taylor’s trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 8.