Karyn Grace continues fight for Gunner-Ryker Bill

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January 8, 2007

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---A grieving mother who believes her two sons' deaths could've been prevented last year is taking her fight back to the steps of South Carolina's state capitol.

Exactly one year ago today Karyn Grace, now Karyn Grace-Parker, found her sons dead after deputies say her husband killed them in a murder-suicide. She says because of South Carolina's strict divorce laws, she was unable to get out of the troubled marriage.

Just months after the deaths of her two sons, Karyn rushed to local lawmakers to put a change in motion in the state's current divorce laws so another family doesn't have to go through her horrifying experience.

On January 8, 2006 North Augusta police made a gruesome discovery--the bodies of 45-year-old Terry Young and his two sons, 7-year-old Gunner and 4-year-old Ryker, all lying side by side under the covers.

Officers say their father killed his sons before he turned the gun on himself.

Karyn says she feared for her life but never imagined her children were in danger.

She pleaded with divorce court for help, but the judge dismissed her case because under South Carolina's divorce laws you must be separated for one year.

In May, Karyn stood before the constitutional laws subcommittee urging them to change the laws to include mental cruelty as grounds for divorce.

"We spent a year caged up in a home scared to leave due to the threats and anger of what he might do," Karyn said. "Please don't let this happen to another family."

Rep. Don Smith of North Augusta sponsored the bill.

"It is my contention during that one year period of time this father became more bitter," Rep. Smith said.

And today, on the one year anniversary, her pastor, Steve Davis of True North Church, tells us Karyn has since re-married and become Karyn Grace-Parker.

"She's enjoying a marriage that can give her love and support," Davis said.

Davis says while the past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for Karyn, "she's allowing her life to make a difference even though some of her life has been taken away from her."

Karyn hopes when state legislators reconvene on Tuesday, lawmakers will keep her tragedy in mind.

"We're going to fight, because that's all I got for the rest of my life--to fight for my children and to save another family," she said.

The subcommittee adjourned debate on the issue last year, asking experts for more information. Because this year marks the start of a new two-year session, that bill will not automatically be carried over.

We're told Rep. Smith and Karyn have not decided yet whether or not they'll keep the bill the same or modify it to allow a shorter separation period, calling for it to be cut to 90 days instead of one year.

The South Carolina Legislature gets back to work tomorrow morning. Leaders say health care and education are on the top of the agenda.