WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - Texas lawmakers in the house and senate are very supportive of Lauren's Law, which would specifically change the Texas Capital Murder law when it comes to the murder of a child.
“We all have a purpose here I believe that. We have to make change,” Biaka Landavazo said about why she and her husband, Vern, have pushed to make Lauren’s Law a reality.
Making a change is what the Wichita Falls family set out to do even in the wake of their daughter Lauren’s death in 2016 when she was brutally shot and killed while walking home from school.
Her murderer, Kody Lott, has been sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole in 28 years.
That is because in Texas, to be sentenced to life without parole or the death penalty, the victim has to be under age 10.
It is a law that does not sit well with the Landavazos. So, they travelled to the state capital to get that law changed and raise the age of a protected child to 14.
Committee members of both the Texas House and Texas Senate heard the heartbreaking story of what happened to Lauren and without question agreed that something needed to change.
However, while the bill easily passed through the criminal justice committee in the senate, there was opposition in the house.
They are cautious because the bill, as it is written right now, would expand the death penalty.
But, the Landavazos say the death penalty is not their focus. “To us, that's not really suffering. We know what his fears are, we know how after listening to his confession how terrified he was going to a jail where people had access to him,” Vern said of his daughter’s murderer.
Now, the bill in the house will be re-written to only include life without parole as the highest punishment.
The Landavazos are optimistic it will pass, and they have the full support of numerous law makers including Rep. James Frank (R-District 69) and Sen. Pat Fallon (R-District 30).
“We need to ensure that somebody like this never harms another child again. This law is not going to affect this monster, but it'll affect the others,” Sen. Fallon said before the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice Wednesday.
Biaka and Vern say that what they have been able to accomplish in the Texas State Legislature so far is just the beginning for what they plan to do to find justice for their daughter.
“Stand up and do something. You have a voice, and there are people that will listen. They did with us”, Biaka stated.
Now that they know how the process works, the Landavazos plan to return to Austin in the future to raise awareness to issues pertaining to mental health and responsible gun ownership.