Legislature Approves ‘Kelley’s Law’, Named After Marshall County Murder Victim

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Kelley Rutledge Johnston

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – A bill named in honor of a Marshall County woman murdered by her estranged husband has passed the full legislature.

‘Kelley’s Law’ now awaits the signature of Governor Robert Bentley. The proposal passed the Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, after also passing the Senate.

Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Red Hill) sponsored the bill, which makes it a capital offense when a murder is committed in violation of a pre-existing restraining order.

It is named after Kelley Rutledge Johnston, a Marshall County woman who was beaten and murdered by her estranged husband in 2000, just weeks after a judge issued a restraining order against him. David Johnston was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but with the possibility of parole. His next parole hearing is scheduled for July 2015.

Scofield has sponsored the legislation for the past four years. He said the bill’s main intent is helping address domestic violence issues.

“If someone has a protection order taken out against someone, they clearly feel threatened,” Scofield said. “With this legislation we are sending a strong message that if you violate that court order and commit murder, you will spend the rest of your life in prison. There is nothing we can do to bring back a lost life, but we can ensure that justice is served. A victim’s family also deserves to have the peace of mind knowing these criminals will never again have the opportunity to inflict more harm.”


  • Richard

    Isn’t Murder against the law already? Isn’t it already a capital offense? I guess the idiots in Montgomery had nothing better to do than create another repetitive law to tie up court time and money. Damn, Alabamians and Americans are so STUPID!

    • Scott Chapman

      Richard, not all murder is a capital crime. A capital crime is punishable by life without parole or death. There are only 7 types of murder that are classified as capital murders. Kelly was beat to death with her 4 year old trying to pull his dad away from his mom. The most brutal murder I have ever known about. David could have got away with a 3 year sentence but thankfully did not want to put his two kids on the witness stand. So this is a law that needs to be passed nationally. It will not stop the first domestic murder, but at least will keep it from happening again. How do I know all this, well I am Kelly’s uncle and saw the horrible photos of her death.

      • Joyce Daversa bramlett

        I was friend of Kelleys and I remember all this like it was yesterday. I remember everything David put her through and what he did. I miss her so much. She touched my heart the first time I met her.

  • Sue

    Absolutely “Kelley’s Law” should be passed! Restraining orders ARE NOT taken seriously by domestic abusers. They make officials aware of the fact that the wife (or whoever the person is) is afraid of the violent offender. However from there it seems to drop. The domestic abuser usually seems to get amused or irritated and more determined to show the victim he is still in charge. The abuser needs to know this is not done for nothing and it is not a joke! A lot less killings would happen if the victim was “heard” by the abuser. I hope this law gets passed and. the abuser knows to stay away or he will pay with his freedom gone forever!!! A man is not a man if he beats up a woman so he deserves whatever he gets!

      • Sue

        That is true. However it seems from the cases the majority are wives or girlfriends but it does happen for both – yes.

  • Charles Bavar

    I think if you get a life sentence it should be life. there should not be any chance that they get a parole hearing. life for life. why give a criminal that is sentenced to life a option of parole. they should say 15 years, or 30 years. quit saying life with possibility of parole. if it is a life sentence it shoud be for life.

    • Sue

      I have always thought that. also. I used to wonder how someone could. receive 2or 3 life sentences when they only had one life. Of course it is a bargaining tool to later be lighter for good behavior or whatever. Life should be life- period. A life is gone- you took it. That is also how they get snitches for other cases- the only good reason for bargaining.

  • Joyce Daversa bramlett

    Kelly was a friend of mine and is missed dearly I am so happy that this is being done this is so much to this story that you will never know. She is missed and always in my heart.

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