Thursday, February 04, 2010

MN Judge Set Higher Bail In Domestic Violence Case To Reflect Higher Danger

From a Minneapolis Star Tribune opinion piece titled Is higher bail the answer in domestic violence cases? by Abby Simons:

It looked like the setup to another case of marriage ending in murder.

Police say that on Jan. 1, Brian Andvik of Albany, Minn., put a pistol in his wife's mouth, told her she'd never see her children again and pulled the trigger.

The gun was empty, but Stearns County [MN] authorities jailed Andvik for felony assault and domestic strangulation, crimes his wife said were just the latest in a series of chokings, gun threats and other violence he'd inflicted upon her.

By Jan. 18, police say, after Andvik had posted $125,000 bail, he violated no-contact orders and snuck into his now-estranged wife's house while she and their two children slept. But he set off a newly installed alarm and was arrested again.

This time, Stearns County Judge Skipper Pearson decided to try changing the course of a story, and possibly its ending. He set Andvik's bail at $1 million -- $500,000 with conditions -- an amount typically reserved for accused killers. Assistant County Attorney Joshua Kannegieter had argued that the high bail was necessary to prevent Andvik from becoming precisely that.
This increased bail is appropriate in cases where murder or serious bodily harm was threatened, promised or attempted or where limits were ignored. What should be considered a threat or a promise must include indirect statements and patterns of statements or actions which individually might be dismissed as meaningless.

While what happened on Jan. 1 is an alleged crime and is too often dismissed as one person's word against another person's word and therefore allegedly not appropriate for higher bail or allegedly not appropriate for an immediate arrest, what happened on Jan. 18 is harder for the dismissive people to reduce to a "he said/she said" dispute.

The risk which the dismissers often ignore or view as acceptable while focusing on the feelings of the person accused of domestic violence goes far beyond the person who made the initial report. Family, friends, bystanders and the police are all at increased risk. The idea that domestic violence is a private matter is dangerous nonsense.

On Jan. 30, a 17 year-old boy was stabbed to death in St. Paul, MN after a 19 year old man violated his ex-girlfriend's order for protection and broke in to her home.

In January, a Maplewood police officer was determined to have been justified in using deadly force in Sept. 2009 when she shot a man who had just killed a North St. Paul police officer when they were responding to a call from the man's estranged wife reporting that he was in her apartment with a gun.

Too often not enough is done until someone who has been abusive crosses a line that the minimizers can no longer shrug off as simply 1 person's word. If we are concerned about public safety we must address the potential danger before it escalates to the promised or threatened most extreme acts of violence.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:23 AM   1 comments links to this post


At February 05, 2010 1:12 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I don't know why bail is even being posted for criminals like this.


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