First-degree murder presumed in domestic slayings approved

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators have agreed that certain people accused of killing a current or former intimate partner should face the most serious crime and possibly the ultimate punishment if convicted.

With a final House vote, the General Assembly gave final approval Thursday to a measure named for a Fuquay-Varina woman shot to death in 2014 by the father of her child. “Britny’s Law” now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

The measure would create the presumption that a homicide constitutes first-degree murder if the slaying was committed with malice and the defendant has been convicted before of domestic violence, stalking or similar crimes against the victim. First-degree murder is punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The defendant could present evidence to rebut that assumption.