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Legislator Wants Capital Offense for Deadly Child Abuse

Legislator Wants Capital Offense for Deadly Child Abuse



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Davis County legislator said Friday he intends to seek a change in state law that would automatically make any form of child abuse resulting in death a capital crime.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, said the recent death of a 10-year-old Syracuse girl inspired him to begin examining a change in state law.

Ryan W. Andrews, 38, and Angela Andrews, 35, are each facing first-degree felony charges of murder and sexual abuse of a child in the death of Shelby L. Andrews

If convicted, Shelby's father and stepmother would face 15 years to life in prison for the murder count and five years to life for the sexual abuse count.

"I want to make sure there's no question about it. If it resulted in a death -- period -- it should be a capital offense," Ray said.

A capital offense is one for which the death penalty can be imposed after a conviction, although most cases do not result in a death sentence.

Ray said he would also consider making kidnapping an aggravating offense.

A preliminary report from the medical examiner concluded that Shelby died from a seizure caused by blunt-force trauma.

Police said about 80 percent of the girl's body had old and new bruises and bite and fingernail marks. The girl also had been shoved against a wall so hard she knocked a hole in the wall, police said.

Investigators said the abuse appeared to be ongoing for as long as a year and the girl had likely been beaten daily for about a week.

There was no record of the state Division of Child and Family Services having been called to the home.

Also living at the home were Angela Andrews' 16-year-old son from a previous marriage, and Shelby's 13-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister from Ryan Andrews' previous marriage. There is no evidence the other children were abused, investigators said.

Ray said he would likely have more details about his proposal later this fall.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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