Houston will remain district attorney (updated)

Published 11:24 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Incumbent District Attorney Randall Houston of the 19th Judicial Circuit fought off challenger Casey Biggs in Tuesday’s Primary Election.

Houston received 25,675 votes in Chilton, Autauga and Elmore counties to Biggs’ 10,513.

In Chilton County, the vote was 5,850 for Houston and 3,563 for Biggs.

Results are not official until provisional ballots are counted.

Houston said he does not expect to face opposition in the November General Election, so he would remain in the office he has held since his appointment in 2001.

Houston has won re-election to six-year terms in 2004, 2010 and now 2016.

“I appreciate the voters of the 19th Circuit returning me to office, and I appreciate them responding to a positive campaign,” Houston said. “I pledge to continue fighting crime in Chilton, Autauga and Elmore counties for the next six years.”

Houston said he will also continue working for residents through the state Legislature.

In an example of Houston’s work in that arena, the Alabama House of Representatives on Feb. 23 passed the Aggravated Child Abuse Bill, which has been referred to as Winston’s Law. With a vote of 101-0, the bill received passage out of the House and now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

Moved by the circumstances surrounding a case he is prosecuting, Houston asked the Legislature to increase the possible penalty for aggravated child abuse for a child under 6 years of age to life in prison, according to a release from Houston’s office.

“I am extremely pleased this bill has made its way through the Alabama Legislature so quickly and our legislators worked to fix the gap in the aggravated child abuse laws,” Houston said in the release. “Rep. Beckman and Sen. Chambliss were key to persuading their colleagues to recognize the importance of such legislation.”

The bill came to fruition after Houston received the case of Hallee McLeod, whose 4-year-old son was found unresponsive and injured in the back of a car in Florida in September 2015. In January, an Elmore County Grand Jury indicted McLeod for aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment of a child.

Under current Alabama law, aggravated child abuse is a Class B felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, but the new law will elevate the crime to a Class A felony punishable by 10 to 99 years, or life, in prison in cases involving a child younger than 6 years old.

By elevating the punishment, this crime will be raised to the same level as attempted murder charges.

Alabama Children First—a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of Alabama’s children and families by shaping public policy—is one of the groups who has been following and supporting this bill from the beginning.

“We are extremely pleased by the Legislature’s work to defend those without a voice by stiffening the penalty for child abuse of a child under 6,” the organization’s executive director, Christy Cain, said in the release.

Cain said the bill will help bring justice for children who have been the victim of child abuse and neglect.

“This bill is important because it stiffens the penalties for a crime that can have life altering effects on its small victims,” she said.