"NC Tracy's Law" Change Domestic Violence Laws in NC "Stalking"

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In Alabama Tracy's Law was passed in 2012 to make stalking a felony in severe cases. In 2015 my sister Tracy Williams was stalked, harassed and killed in NC just as Tracy Lynn Morris was killed in Alabama a restraining order did not protect them. We need to ask Legislature to pass the same law in NC to protect others like these women.

Please sign a petition to pass NC Tracy’s Law that will be aimed at stopping many of the upsetting and disruptive behaviors stalkers use, however; those same behaviors are not currently criminalized. The new law establishes a misdemeanor charge for behaviors that under different circumstances might be considered ordinary.

The new law would target a person "acting with an improper purpose who intentionally follows, harasses, telephones or initiates communication" with another person, any member of the person's immediate family, or any third party "with whom the person is acquainted."

The behavior becomes criminal if the person is asked to stop and does not.

The new law in Alabama requires that the stalking behavior causes material harm to the other person's mental or emotional health or causes the person to reasonably fear that his or her "employment, business or career is threatened."

"Many times, stalking incidents occur after there's already been some type of act, whether harassment, domestic violence or misdemeanor assault. Now, if investigators get a case like this, that would be a factor to show the intent of the suspect or the offender.

"It can show more than someone who just has an infatuation, it can show a connection between them and the possibility of a violent act." This could ultimately save lives.


Editorial page editor Ned Barnett: 919-829-4512, nbarnett@newsobserver.com 2015

The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence compiles a running list of people who have been killed in domestic violence cases in North Carolina. In 2015 Tracy Williams was No. 24.

On July 26, the 44-year-old health worker from Franklin County was fatally shot by her ex-boyfriend in a supermarket parking lot in Franklinton. In recent years, more than 60 people have been killed annually in North Carolina by someone they had, or once had, a close relationship with.

Williams did virtually all a person could do to protect herself. She took out protective orders in three counties to keep away from her the man charged with killing her. She told her family of her fears. She told the police when Yarborough threatened her. She changed her vehicle.

Williams bought a gun and obtained a concealed carry permit. She used the weapon when Yarborough approached her while she was at an ATM in the parking lot. She shot him in the leg and then the gun jammed. Yarborough, also armed, chased her down and shot her in the face, police said.

To learn of Williams’ ordeal and her fate is to shiver at the fear she felt, the growing menace, the inescapable threat and the inevitable end. Her pleas for help were heard by many, but no one – not family, friends, cops or judges – could save her. She died in a busy public place, yet terribly alone.

And in Franklin County, Safe Space, an organization that assists domestic violence victims, is hearing from groups that want to learn about preventing domestic violence.

 “There are thousands and thousands more,” McCool says. “Only a small percentage are ready at any point to seek services.”

The lack of seriousness is also reflected in a lack of funding. Indeed, state budget cuts have reduced funding for groups like Safe Space. And, indirectly, it shows up in cuts to funding for Legal Aid, a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse who are seeking protection for themselves and their children.

“Legal Aid is facing enormous funding cuts and will be unable to serve victims when they need them,” McCool says. “Over and over (a request for legal assistance) is what we hear from victims who need help. We have nowhere to send them.”


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