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Justice's Law fails

family to continue fight

March 31, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- The grandmother of a slain Washington County infant describes her family's fight for justice as the "life sentence" they hope to impose on those who kill children.

For the second year, Justice's Law has failed in a House of Delegates committee, but Dee Myers says her family will continue to push for its adoption next year.

Myers is the maternal grandmother of Justice Christopher Calvin Myers-Cannon, who was 4 months old when he died in 2007 after being severely beaten by Floyd Edward Bingaman III of Hagerstown.

A bill known as Justice's Law would make life in prison the maximum penalty for first-degree child abuse that results in death. The current maximum sentence is 30 years in prison. Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, sponsored the bill this year and last.

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Bingaman was convicted in the boy's death and sentenced in January 2008 to 40 years in prison, with 10 of those years suspended.

Last year, Justice's Law did not get a vote in committee. This year, it nearly passed committee with 10 votes.Shank would not speculate on why the bill did not advance but said that while he was disappointed by its failure, he was encouraged by the number of people who voted in favor of the bill.

Shank said he would push for its passage again next year, perhaps considering a different strategy or amendments, that could help it move through the General Assembly.

"I think the murder of baby Justice reveals a flaw in our judicial system where there is unequal treatment between children and adults, where a victim of child abuse does not have the same rights as an adult victim of homicide," Shank said.

Myers, who testified in a hearing on Justice's Law earlier in March, said Tuesday that Justice's family was disappointed by the committee's decision.

"From our point of view, it's a no-brainer," she said. "These are our children we're talking about."

Myers said the family would support the bill again next year and will continue to fight for the bill until it is a law.

"We're just going to keep fighting for Justice," she said. "And for all abused children."

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