Since the early 1990s, domestic violence has killed at least 105 women, 35 children and five men in Hennepin County [Minnesota] alone. A report released by the county's Fatality Review Team shows the progress that has been made since a state law making strangulation during domestic abuse a felony was passed in 2005. According to the report, which looked back on 11 recent domestic homicides, not enough is being done to help the young survivors of domestic violence.
"There's work left to be done. There's always work left to be done," said Judge Kathryn Quaintance, chair of the Fatality Review Team.Among the state's 33 domestic homicides in 2006 was Terri Lee and a companion, who were killed by Lee's former boyfriend. He was violating a court restraining order. In another case, Rachel Kastner, a Burnsville, Minn. mother, was brutally murdered by her husband in plain view of her children. This case highlights one glaring problem often overlooked in cases of domestic murder: child witnesses.
This is an important topic and one of the issues is what professional services these child witnesses get to help them deal with this extreme trauma.
Here's a letter from the project director included with the Hennepin County 2006 Fatality Review Report:
While our Review Team is unique in Minnesota, it is part of a growing national movement to provide in-depth case reviews of the events and circumstances surrounding domestic homicides to identify responses and strategies to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
We have gained a national reputation for the quality of our reports, the thoroughness of our review process, and our success in implementing changes. Alaska and Georgia have sought our assistance in helping them to establish a review process in their communities.
Other communities in Minnesota have received training and technical assistance from our Review Team as well. Minnesota policy makers, legislators, survivors of domestic violence, and advocates, have encouraged our outreach within the state with the goal of establishing similar review teams in other judicial districts. We have recently received additional grant funding to work with other Minnesota communities to implement fatality review teams in their jurisdictions.
The review process in Hennepin County has spawned a level of trust and cooperation among group members that fosters rigorous introspection and examination of policies, procedures, and criminal justice system responses. We have found that the process constantly evolves as we strive to improve our investigation and implementation efforts and ultimately to be an effective catalyst for change.
We hope this report will inspire change that ensures the safety of women and children in their homes and result in a safer community for everyone. In this report (at page 24) we have enumerated changes made by various criminal justice agencies that address recommendations made in our past reports. We want to recognize and commend the progress made in these specific areas.
In the future we will continue to monitor initiatives in the community and the criminal justice system that correspond to opportunities for intervention identified in our reports. In this way we hope to better hold ourselves and others accountable for taking action based on what we have learned. Through positive change in our response to domestic violence, we can pay tribute to those whose lives and deaths we have examined.
Read the full report.
In this recent double homicide there wasn't a child witness, but there was a child whose life is changed forever.
This history of violence and death threats is common and needs to trigger more of an official response than an order for protection. At a minimum if someone threatens to kill someone else there needs to an intensive effort to evaluate the risks and to intervene according to that risk.
One of the suspects in a double homicide in Brooklyn Park, Minn. has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. On Jan. 16, police found that the two New Brighton victims been shot to death in a car in the parking lot of a Brooklyn Park apartment complex.
According to the charges, 20-year-old Revelle Loving, of Coon Rapids, Minn., was the ex-boyfriend of victim Mosetta Peters, 21. He was also the father of her 3-year-old daughter. Relatives of Peters said she had been receiving death threats from Loving and had also previously been assaulted by Loving.
Dismissing domestic abuse and homicide between those with significant relationships as a personal matter is something that should be considered a contributing factor in these types of crimes.