DAPHNE — State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) introduced House Bill 76 to protect grandparents by adding them to existing domestic violence laws.

The idea for the bill came up after a February quadruple homicide in Daphne. Police said 21-year-old Jared Tarant Smith-Bracy used a pickax and a gun to kill his grandparents, brother and a family friend. Smith-Bracy had just been released from jail on a criminal mischief charge that stemmed from an incident at the house on Melanie Loop. After talking to officers and prosecutors in the case, Simpson said that if Smith-Bracy could have been charged with domestic violence, he would not have been let out of jail so soon after the initial incident.

“I found out the only thing they could do was charge him with criminal mischief earlier that day because incidents with grandparents are not considered domestic violence under Alabama law,” Simpson said. “And they can’t hold suspects on criminal mischief charges. So, as soon as he bonded out, he just went right back to them and killed them. We need to put more in place to protect grandparents, especially because grandparents are often a primary caregiver now.”

Daphne Police detective Jason Vannoy said a 12-hour hold after domestic violence incident often allows for a cool-down period and could prevent suspects from returning angry.

“I can certainly say this would have been helpful in this case,” Vannoy told 1819 News. “Not to say it would have prevented it, but it certainly would’ve helped. Another thing is, court personnel would typically put a no-contact order in place, which would prevent the person that was arrested from having contact with the victim.”

As of now, Alabama only allows domestic violence charges if the victim is a “current or former spouse, parent, step-parent, child or any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present household member, or a person who has or had a dating relationship with the defendant,” HB 76 states.

Vannoy said this bill is needed with more grandchildren living with their grandparents.

“The concern is that grandparents are not covered under the domestic violence statute as victims,” he said. “We have encountered a lot of times over the past several years there are offenders living with their grandparents and not a parent or somebody in a dating relationship. They have committed those types of offenses against grandparents.”

The House Judiciary Committee has heard the introduction of the bill, and it has been read for the first time in the House of Origin.

A preliminary hearing has not been set for Smith-Bracy. He is being held in jail with no bond.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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