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Child Abuse Bill Passes House

Child Abuse Bill Passes House



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Prosecutors wouldn't have to prove someone intended to kill a child to seek the death penalty if the child died during an act of abuse, sexual assault or kidnapping, under a bill that passed in the House on Thursday.

House Bill 93 was written after prosecutors were unable to consider the death penalty in the case of a father and stepmother charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, cited the death of 10-year-old Shelby Andrews, who had bites and bruises on 80 percent of her body when police arrived Aug. 1 at her Syracuse home. An autopsy showed she died of the bruises and severe brain swelling.

The girl's father, Ryan Andrews, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison by a judge who expressed shock over what happened to the girl. Andrews has agreed to testify against his wife.

Prosecutors have said they can't prove there was intent to kill the girl and ruled out seeking the death penalty.

"This is a great day for Utah," said Ray, shortly before his bill passed 54-9. "We're sending a message that we truly believe in protecting children."

Ray's bill is the second that would expand the use of the death penalty in Utah that has gained the House's approval. His bill now heads to the Senate, where little opposition is expected.

A bill by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, would make killing a child younger than 14 a capital crime. After passing in the House 72-0, the bill is now awaiting a Senate committee hearing.

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On the Net: House Bill 93: http://www.le.state.ut.us/2007/bills/hbillint/hb0093.htm

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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