Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stalker Kills Marietta Woman

The AJC reports that a 32-year-old Marietta woman was fatally shot Tuesday outside the supermarket where she worked, killed by a man who had been stalking her for months, police said.

Police arrested the suspect, Armando Soto, 46, early Wednesday in Mississippi. He has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault and is being held in the Pascagoula, Miss., jail.

At 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, police say, Soto confronted Angelica Robledo De La Rosa and her companion outside the Brito Supermarket on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna. Soto shot De La Rosa several times as she got out of a vehicle, police said.

Soto then crashed his white van into another vehicle before fleeing, police said.

Investigators soon learned Soto had repeatedly tried to "pursue a relationship with the victim, however she continually denied his requests," police spokesman Officer Joe Hernandez said. "A series of disturbing [stalking] incidents" followed, Hernandez said, but they were not reported to police.

A lookout was sent to law enforcement agencies Tuesday. Police in Gautier, Miss., pulled over Soto in his white van early Wednesday.

De La Rosa, who worked in the grocery store as a cashier, died of her wounds Tuesday night at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
Tragedies like these underscore very clearly why we take stalking seriously. It's not a compliment and it's not a way to wear a woman down until she finally says yes to a date. Stalking is a crime, it is threatening and scary, and it should never be treated as a joke. We're just sorry that it takes the death of an innocent woman to prove that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Domestic Violence Bombing

Expecting to see a post about war? Nope. From the Augusta Chronicle, we hear about a literal domestic violence attempted bombing in Georgia:

Authorities say Robert Holt, 25, wanted to get back at his old girlfriend by throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of her home.

He not only got arrested; he hit the wrong house.

Mr. Holt was being held Tuesday without bond, charged with throwing the firebomb through the window of a Dell Drive house Sunday night. He was taken into custody soon after by Thomson police.

Authorities said Mr. Holt had been arrested on a variety of charges in recent months but is now facing arson in the first degree, four counts of aggravated assault and possession of an explosive device, according to police records. Each charge is a felony.

No one was injured when the device was thrown through the front window of a residence in the 500 block of Dell Drive about 9 p.m., police said.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John W. Oxendine said in a statement that Mr. Holt mistook the home for one where he thought his estranged girlfriend was living.

Firefighters with the Thomson Fire Department responded to a fire call at the home where damage was reported.

Mr. Holt is being held without bond in the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we repeat: domestic violence is not just a private, family matter. It spills out of homes and into our streets. Innocent bystanders, friends, and family members are killed daily across the country because we are still too accepting of the violence that we expect to stay behind closed doors. The family living in this home is very lucky that no one was killed. They could easily have been victims of domestic violence homicides too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Murder-Suicide in Powder Springs

From the AJC:
A 66-year-old Powder Springs man shot and killed his 48-year-old wife, then turned the gun on himself, Cobb County police believe.

Police responding to a 911 call Monday morning found William "Archie" Nix and Brenda Nix dead in their home on Friendship Church Road. A family member made the call about 9 a.m.

Detectives continue to investigate, and anyone with information is asked to call 770-499-3945.
As always, our thoughts and prayers and with the victim's family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Murder-Suicide in Atlanta

A man in southeast Atlanta has killed his partner, then himself:
Mark Gilbeau, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office, told the AJC that Richard Mosely, 66, apparently shot Caroline Holliday, 51, before turning the gun on himself.

Mosely and Holliday, who were roommates in the home on Thomasville Court, both died at the scene following the 7:45 p.m. shooting, Gilbeau said.

Atlanta police investigators have not released a motive for the shooting.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family.

Speaker Richardson's Domestic Violence History

We're a few weeks behind on this one, but a domestic violence scandal is rocking Georgia politics, though very few people are labeling it as such. From Fox 5 news:

ATLANTA (MyFOX ATLANTA) - It was a political bombshell that rocked the state Capitol. This month, House Speaker Glenn Richardson announced that he had tried to take his own life. Richardson blamed the suicide attempt on depression resulting from his divorce. On Monday, Richardson's ex-wife told her side of the story.

Susan Richardson said she wanted Georgia voters to know why she divorced her husband and what led up to his surprising announcement. Richardson said she could no longer keep her ex-husband's secrets.
In the interview (linked in full above), Susan Richardson describes a relationship based on power and control. In a responding opinion piece, Shelley Serdahaley, Executive Director of our partner organization Men Stopping Violence, filters Mrs. Richardson' interview through a DV lens.

Susan Richardson recently spoke with the press to challenge the statement by her ex-husband, Georgia House Speaker Glen Richardson, that his suicide attempt had been prompted by his depression over their divorce.

"It's not about our marriage ending. He's lost control of me. He doesn't like that," said Richardson.

"He called me from his hospital room, the next day, and said, 'Now, are you going to take me back?'”

The behaviors she described are the kinds of actions that must be acknowledged as abuse if we are truly serious about ending violence against women.

In the Diane Sawyer interview, Rhianna helped us understand how a beautiful and powerful young woman could be the victim of domestic violence. In much the same way, Susan Richardson helps us understand the many ways abusers exert power and control over their partners, without actually striking them.

Ms. Richardson stated that her ex-husband told her he would beat her. He threatened her with the loss of custody of her children. He left 49 text messages on her phone, including threats that he would have the state patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation hunt her down when she left town.

Physical threats, threatening the loss of children, and stalking are all calculated to instill fear in the victim. They are tactics used by an abuser to control his victim’s behavior, to get his own way. Other tactics include physical intimidation, withholding money, infidelity, put-downs, and making it difficult for her to spend time with friends or family.

While no one should take major depression lightly, threats of suicide are a classic tactic that abusive men use to manipulate their partners and ex-partners into submitting to their demands.

When the murders occur, it is time for us to mourn. When we witness abuse, it is time to act. As the leaders of the Republican Party figure out what to do with this “situation”, I hope that they recognize that one thing they need to do is take a stand. Stand for women’s safety and say that all forms of abuse are wrong.
Update 12/29/09: Another elected official in Georgia, this time a Savannah area alderman-elect, is arrested for domestic violence.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Importance of Prevention

A writer on Law Blog discovers what those of us in this field have known all along, that sometimes women do every single thing they're "supposed" to do and they still experience further violence. What the writer gets wrong, however, is this sentence:

Sometimes, there is no way to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence.
The sentiment is spot on, but the writer is still making society's tired old mistake, that prevention is something for which a victim of violence must take responsibility.

She must leave the relationship to prevent future violence. Well, as we hope we've made very clear on this blog, immediately after leaving is one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship.

She must take out a protective order for her safety. Well, to a man who has been to jail and for whom threats of imprisonment are not threatening at all, a protective order is just a piece of paper.

She must leave the relationship, get a divorce, stay in a safehouse, leave the state, change her name, protect her address, etc. etc. etc.

As an attorney, the Law Blog writer does wonder if he did everything he could to ensure her safety. To him, that means he wonders if he helped her gain all of the possible legal protections available. See "she must take out a protective order" above.

He sums up with this:

Did the system fail? Could this brutal second attack have been prevented? Was there something else I could have done? I don't know. However, I have a few suggestions for those who have been the victims of domestic violence and who still maintain contact with the perpetrator because of child custody issues.

More advice for women. I hope our regular readers see where we're going with this. Not once does the writer wonder what could have been done to prevent the batterer from learning to batter.

Sometimes, there is no way to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence.
Sometimes, it is too late to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence for the woman/women on whom one batterer preys. But it is never too late to teach our sons not to batter. That's the best and only real way to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence.

Update: Shakesville posted today on a public transit sign, meant to reduce sexual harassment on trains and buses, that reads:
Sexual Harassment is a crime in the subway, too--a crowded train is no excuse for an improper touch. Don't stand for it or be ashamed, or be afraid to speak up. Report it to an MTA employee or police officer.

Note the advice. Sexual harassment is a crime . . . report it. Not sexual harassment is a crime . . . don't do it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Man Kills Partner, Son in Decatur County

A Decatur County man shot and killed his longtime live-in girlfriend and their son before killing himself on Saturday night, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies discovered the tragedy at the home of James Lewis “Bubba” Reynolds III, 42, of 202 County Line Road, in northern Decatur County.

Reynolds’ sister, Tammy Cook, went to check on him and found his body along with those of his girlfriend, 31-year-old Tonia Swords, and their son, 7-year-old Kahm Reynolds, Sheriff Wiley Griffin said.

The Sheriff’s Office was investigating Reynolds after allegations he had sexually molested two young females, Sheriff Griffin said.

Because of that ongoing investigation, Sheriff’s deputies had removed Swords and her family from Reynolds’ home and placed her in a safe residence outside of Decatur County, Griffin said. In addition, the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services had implemented a safe plan designed to protect Swords’ children, the sheriff said.

Swords’ other two children did not go back to the home and are being taken care of by relatives, Griffin said.

On Monday, after Swords was moved out, Reynolds had been ordered to have no further contact with her.

“For some reason, unbeknownst to me or to this office, Tonia and her child got back to [Reynolds’] residence and all indications were that he killed them,” Griffin said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Swords family.

Friday, December 4, 2009

UGA Suspends Player for Domestic Violence

The Georgia Bulldogs indefinitely suspended freshman defensive end Montez Robinson today after he was arrested Thursday on battery charges.

“I’m certainly disappointed in the situation with Montez (Robinson),” said head coach Mark Richt. “We have expectations and standards for our student-athletes and his actions are not in line with those. We are suspending him indefinitely from all team activities.”

Robinson faces battery and criminal damage charges for two separate events involving a female University of Georgia student.

Robinson, 19, was held in the Clarke County Jail this morning on charges of simple battery and second-degree criminal damage, a felony. He was released on $2,000 bond later in the afternoon.

Robinson is charged with battery for allegedly assaulting the female student on Oct. 20 and criminal damage for allegedly breaking taillights on her car early Monday morning.

This post could easily have been given the "double standards" tag that posts on domestic violence perpetrated by athletes often get. Instead, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt chose to take these arrests seriously and condemn domestic violence as outside the standards of character he expects from his team. Thanks, Coach Richt, for standing with our cause and setting that example for your peers, your team, and your fans.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DV Stabbing in Norcross

Via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

DULUTH — A love triangle turned deadly Tuesday night when a jealous man fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend’s new beau in a Duluth bakery, police said.

Authorities said Son Hoang, 28, of Norcross, was upset that his ex was having coffee with another man and confronted the pair about 11:15 p.m. The incident happened at Cafe Mozart Bakery, located in a shopping center at 2131 Pleasant Hill Road near Venture Drive.

Police said Hoang engaged the victim, Vu Quang Lu, 24, of Lawrenceville, in an argument that quickly escalated to fisticuffs.

“During the fight, (Hoang) produced a knife and stabbed the victim several times,” said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli.

The entirety of the altercation took place within the bakery, where officers found Lu bleeding upon arrival. He was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center where he later died, Schiralli said.

Investigators initiated a manhunt for Hoang based on information provided by his ex-girlfriend, whom police have not identified. But Hoang surrendered to police at a Norcross precinct about 90 minutes later, Schiralli said.

Hoang was arrested without incident, interviewed and booked into the Gwinnett County Jail on murder charges. He remains jailed without bond, Schiralli said.

The bakery was open to the public Wednesday morning and bore no signs of an altercation or police involvement. An employee said workers who witnessed the stabbing were not available for comment.

“I can’t really say anything about that,” the employee said, declining further comment.

Our thoughts are with the victim's family.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Popular Songs Contain "Unhealthy Relationship Ingredients"

In Boston, an innovative new program is encouraging teens to examine the messages the get about relationships from the media, particularly popular music. From Access Atlanta:

The "Sound Relationships Nutrition Label" was developed by 14 teens after they attended a seven-week commission-sponsored institute on healthy relationship promotion and teen dating violence prevention. During the seven-week program, teens were also taught to evaluate music based on themes of power, control, equality and gender roles.

The teens then developed their list after analyzing songs from Billboard's "Hot 100" chart.

Mario's "Break Up" featuring Gucci Man and Sean Garrett and Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" featuring T-Pain topped the list for the most unhealthy relationship songs of 2009. Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Pitbull's "Hotel Room Service" were also listed.

Among the teen panel's top 10 songs with healthy themes: "Miss Independent" by Ne-Yo and "Meet Me Halfway" by the Black Eyed Peas.

Shaquilla Terry, 15, of Boston, a teen panel member, said it was important for listeners to go beyond the songs' beats and listen to the lyrics.

The commission says its program aims to teach teens how to evaluate popular media, and help parents talk to teens about healthy relationships. Commission officials also said the label invites consumers to become song lyric nutritionists by helping them identify positive and negative messages about relationships in songs.

"We aren't telling people what they should or should not be listening to," Barbara Ferrer, the commission's executive director, said in a statement. "We are giving them a tool that will help them make an informed choice about what they put in their bodies."

In addition to the label, the commission also plans to released a lesson plan for teachers.

Jack Perricone, chair of the songwriting department at the Berklee College of Music, said pop songs generally allow listeners to get away from the bad news of the day. But he said pop music, by its very nature, is very repetitive, and sometimes if songs have negative messages, those repetitive messages can get inside teens' heads.

"Some (artists) play up the bad boy image and put out negative images as a way to be commercially successful," said Perricone, who was not affiliated with the commission. "But then they have to deal with the moral implications."
Leave your list of healthy and unhealthy relationship songs in comments.