After more than three years fighting in memory of her niece, Amanda Mathews says the battle in the court is over.
"Now it becomes a law and it's going to be named Emma's Law. It got huge support from the house and the senate,” explained Emma’s aunt, Amanda Mathews. .
Governor Rick Perry officially signed Emma's Law into place. Emma Thompson was only four years old when her mother’s boyfriend Lucas Coe raped and brutally beat her to death. Both Coe and Emma's mother -- Abigail Young -- were convicted. Coe was sentenced to life in prison. Young was found guilty of reckless injury to a child, a third- degree felony. Under the new law, Young will no longer be considered for parole on an annual basis.
“Everyone that pushed it through really saw the importance of this bill so that families like mine who lose someone to a tragedy, especially a child, can actually go on with their healing process instead of every year having to fight for somebody not to get out of prison and not get paroled,” said Mathews.
Emma's Law says anyone convicted of a felony against a child is eligible for parole every five years instead of once-a-year.
Anytime someone comes up for parole, whether it be first degree, second degree or third degree felony, they can actually take that and deny the persons parole. It doesn't necessarily mean my sister won’t come up for parole again next year if they keep her behind bars this year, but because of the nature of the crime, they can offset that at their discretion.
Mathews says she truly believes the passing of Emma's Law is a direct result of Emma's angels hard at work.
“It's been so tough but on days like Friday when Perry signed the bill, I just looked back and its almost to the date of Emma's death and those are the days we can look forward to and we can say 'Wow, things are going to change,’ and not only for us, but for other families that are going through similar tragedies to ours,” added Mathews. “But more importantly, those people who hurt children are going to be held accountable."