Kari Hunt was murdered in a hotel in December 2013. (Source: Family)
MARSHALL, TX (KSLA) -
At dawn on this Friday morning, the U.S. House gave its final stamp of approval to Kari's Law, named after Kari Dunn, who was murdered inside an East Texas motel.
The legislation is now headed to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature, making it law across the country. And many say the timing could not have been any more fitting on what would have been Kari's 36th birthday.
The law requires hotels and motels and other entities with multiple telephone line systems to have a direct dial to 9-1-1.
On December 1, 2013 Kari Hunt Dunn was stabbed to death inside a motel room by her estranged husband in Marshall, Texas. During the struggle, her 9-year-old daughter tried four times to call 9-1-1 but couldn't get through because she never knew you had to dial a '9' before making a call.
"And my granddaughter looked at me and said I did what I was supposed to, but it didn't work Papa," recalled Kari's father Hank Hunt while speaking to a group about the tragedy.
Just weeks after Kari's murder Hunt began a campaign to require all hotels, motels and other locations with multiple line phone systems to enable direct-dial access to 911.
It's already been a state law in Texas since 2016. Now the federal version awaits President Trump's signature to become law across the country.
Take just a moment to speak with people on the streets of Marshall, Texas and most still vividly recall the murder and Hunt's public campaign for Kari's Law.
Brandi Moore, who hopes this legislation gets as much publicity as possible.
"I think maybe the more it's publicized, you know and put out there, that people will pay attention to it," Moore said.
The owner of Cajun Tex restaurant in Marshall, Johnny Horne, told us he was glad to hear the U.S. House had just given final approval to Kari's Law a few hours before we spoke with him Friday afternoon.
"Something that small, if you ask me that should have been years and years ago," Horne said.
Some argue that in these days when nearly everyone carries a cellphone that Kari's Law may not be as critical as it might have been, for example, 30 years ago.
But law enforcement tells us this law will help. That includes Public Information Officer Kelly Colvin with the Marshall, Texas Police Department.
"Not all cell phones have service everywhere. So, we still have to rely on multi-line telephone systems," Colvin said.
And having a child able to call 911 has saved countless lives over the years. That includes 10-year-old Marissa Antwine of Bossier City who called 9-1-1 when her grandfather suffered a stroke.
"I felt nervous," recalled Antwine. We caught up with her and her family the night Bossier City recognized Antwine back in September, for calling 9-1-1.
An amendment to the federal version of Kari's Law has reduced the time frame for those with multi-line telephone systems to get into compliance.
Originally they would have 5 years to comply. Now it's only two years.
For many of these phone systems it's as simple as flipping a switch to make them compliant.