The Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act passed the U.S. Senate unanimously on Wednesday night. It's a bill that asks Attorney General Eric Holder to issue a state-by-state report on child abuse prevention laws within 6 months. The goal is to get states to increase punishment for child abuse offenders.
The bill is named after Kilah Davenport of Union County. Her grandfather, Brian Davenport, remembers how his granddaughter used to be:
"She loved to be outside," he says. "She loved to dance. She loved music. She loved singing. She's just a loving child all the way around."
And then in May of 2012, the three-year old's stepfather threw her against the wall.
"She couldn't communicate anymore – you know verbally," he says. "She couldn't walk, talk, she had to be fed by us, changed. She had to go back into diapers again. The incident stole her innocence and her childhood."
A jury found Joshua Houser guilty of felony child abuse in late February. He was sentenced to a maximum of ten years. Just a few weeks later, Kilah died from brain injuries.
Union County District Attorney Trey Robison says that wasn't enough punishment for her abuser.
"In this particular case, I'd argue that it was not enough time," Robison says. "I mean, I've never been around a child, in all my years, I've never been around a child as grievously injured as Kilah was – short of actually – you know – being murdered."
He says that what passed on Wednesday night – might not have much of an impact – at least in North Carolina. It calls for Attorney General Eric Holder to review state child abuse laws and make recommendations.
Last year, the Davenport family helped pass a law in the state General Assembly that increased penalties for child abuse offenders – in some cases doubling the minimum sentence for the worst offenders.
Brian Davenport says he knows the federal version of Kilah's Law is not as strong – but he likes knowing she didn't die in vain.
"It's a tremendous honor that our granddaughter's name is on a piece of federal legislation," Davenport says. "It's a true honor to know that she's going to go to save other children's lives."