Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Husband Causes Car Accident That Kills Wife

We cannot begin to tell you how often we hear of abusers putting their partners in danger in the car. Batterers will, like in this case, jerk the wheel while she is driving, hit her while she is driving, open the car door and attempt to push her out, or use many other tactics that could be dangerous to those in the car and to other drivers. Unfortunately, a jerked wheel in this case resulted in the death of a woman and injuries to her ten-year-old daughter.

Accident investigators believe Lawrenceville resident Eddie Waters, 35, grabbed the steering wheel of a southbound 2003 Buick Regal on Monfort Road about 6:30 p.m., causing the driver — his wife — to plow through a mailbox and utility pole, finally striking a tree.

Waters’ wife, Ruby Spencer, 39, of Lawrenceville, died at the scene. Waters — the front passenger — and a 10-year-old girl seated behind him were hospitalized with injuries that weren’t life-threatening, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Brian Kelly.

The child is Spencer’s daughter, Kelly said.

Waters was later arrested and booked at the Gwinnett County Jail on felony involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless conduct charges. He remained jailed Tuesday morning on $16,900 bond.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Spencer family.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ban on Guns for Batterers Upheld

In a follow-up to this post, a federal appeals court upheld a ban on gun possession for a domestic violence offender in a ruling that several anti-violence advocates applauded Wednesday for providing some clarity after the U.S. Supreme Court's recent landmark decision on gun restrictions.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 10-1 on Tuesday to reinstate a southern Wisconsin man's conviction for having a gun while on probation for a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. The decision followed the high court's ruling last month that made Chicago's outright handgun ban unenforceable. The court held that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live.

The Wisconsin case was being closely watched by advocates of gun rights and domestic abuse victims, particularly in light of the Supreme Court's ruling. While the court signaled some gun restrictions may survive legal challenges, it offered assurances only on laws that bar felons from having guns.

"Even with the new definition of the Second Amendment, it (Tuesday's ruling) shows that you can still have reasonable gun restrictions," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said of the appellate ruling. "This case really reaffirms that you can have limits."
We are grateful to the Appeals Court for making what we see as a sound ruling protecting the safety of women across the country.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Unknown Victim Identified as DV Murder

A murdered woman found near Savannah has now been identified and was a victim of domestic violence.

According to autopsy results, a body found June 18 near Juanita Road in Liberty County is that of Hinesville woman Savannah Smith, 22, who previously had not been seen since June 8. Hinesville Police Department Detective Thomas Cribbs confirmed Smith’s identity at 4 p.m. Friday.

The body, which law enforcement officials recovered in the Gum Branch area, originally was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab in Savannah for an autopsy, according to Cribbs, but was eventually sent to a lab in Atlanta because more extensive tests were necessary.

Smith’s boyfriend, Maurice Newsome, 21, who was arrested June 17 in Atlanta and charged with aggravated assault, will now face homicide charges, the detective said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Smith family.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Let's Talk About Mel Gibson

It always takes us a while to comment on a celebrity incident of domestic violence, because what we're really interested in is how pop culture in general reacts to the crime. Let's break down what we've heard about Mel Gibson.

First, we have reports that the couple are splitting up, but that things have turned "messy". Normally breakups that are "messy" don't involve a restraining order, but right off the bat Gibson's wife feels the need to seek legal protection. Her order against him is granted, but his legal team seeks an order against her that forbids her to speak publicly about their relationship. After all, he doesn't want to be held accountable for his actions, does he?

However, as in many cases, the details begin trickling out. He hit his wife while she was holding their child, he threatened her with violence, and he yelled racist and sexist epithets at her. He acted like every other batterer that the Women's Resource Center knows.

There are thousands of men who do exactly what Mel Gibson stands accused of doing. In the words of a sister organization, Casa Myrna Vazquez in Boston:

They don’t garner national attention like the Mel Gibsons, the Charlie Sheens or the Chris Browns. We’ll never see photos of the bruises they inflict on their victims, or hear audiotapes of their abuse. Their victims won’t be front page news unless they happen to die at the hands of their abusers. And yet the toll these abusers exact on their victims, and our society, is enormous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, nearly 5.3 million incidents of domestic violence occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older. Imagine Mel Gibson’s rant repeated over 5 million times. That’s the reality on the ground. Intimidation. Insults. Physical violence. Death threats. It will happen to one in four women in their lifetimes.

The financial statistics, also compiled by the CDC, are equally alarming. The costs of domestic violence against women exceed an estimated $5.8 billion every year. That figure includes nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical and mental health care and another $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity. Victims of domestic violence lose a total of nearly 8 million days of paid work - the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs - and nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity each year as a result of the violence they endure.
Gibson's wife is also being treated just like most victims. The media immediately dismissed the restraining order she filed as a ploy to affect their pending divorce. She had to tape record the violence and release it to the press just to to get the police to investigate her claims. And she has to face everyone under the sun, including other women, making excuses for him.

Meanwhile, his fans are waiting for any excuse to forgive and forget.

Hmmmm. This sounds so familiar.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Albany Man Kills Wife, Self

An Albany man has killed his wife and himself at their vacation home in Ft. Gaines.

The Clay County Sheriff says 65-year-old Ronald Cox shot and killed his wife, 68-year-old Bobbie Cox around 11:30 Wednesday morning. He then sat in the home with his wife's body until 6 p.m. Wednesday night before taking his own life when he saw neighbors pull in their driveways.

Sheriff Roger Shivers says Cox left a note telling neighbors what he had done on their doors. Sheriff Shivers and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation worked the case. The Sheriff says Ronald Cox was depressed and was dealing with a lot of financial hardships that may have led to the murder suicide.

These are the 9th and 10th lives taken by domestic violence in Georgia just in the month of July. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cox family.

Monday, July 19, 2010

GA Man Kills Wife, Son, Self

On Friday night, an Early County, Georgia man shot his wife and two children, then himself.

Matthew Lowell Justice, 37, shot his wife, 36-year-old Amy Lynn Justice, and their two children late Friday night, Mark Pro, assistant special agent in charge with the GBI, told the Associated Press.

Matthew Lowell Justice died from his wounds at the scene of the shooting, which took place in the family's Early County home, north of Blakely, Capt. Will Caudill with the sheriff's office said. Amy Lynn Justice was transported to Early Memorial Hospital in Blakely, where she died, Caudill said.

The couple's 14-year-old son, whose name is not being released due to his age, was taken to a Dothan, Ala., hospital, Caudill said.

He died Saturday afternoon, Pro with the GBI said.

The 11-year-old girl was treated and released from a local hospital, he said.

The couple were both teachers and were well-known in the community. Matthew (the perpetrator) was actively involved in their church's praise choir. Investigators are hoping the 11-year-old will be able to shed some light on what happened.

The past few days have seen a rash of murder suicides across the country including Michigan, Texas, California, Illinois, Connecticut, and two in Georgia.

The whole Justice family, but especially the young survivor, are in our thoughts and prayers along with all of the families who have lost loved ones this week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not Something We Need To Be Worried About

On this blog, we try to regularly draw attention to ways in which domestic violence in dangerous to everyone, not just the individuals involved. This is important, because many people still don't see domestic violence as a serious threat. Case in point:

A Raleigh, North Carolina woman was found shot to death in a Buckhead apartment Wednesday. Here is a quote from a neighbor:

"I'm hoping it's more of a domestic dispute rather than something we need to be worried about".
In other words, domestic violence is OK. It's not something I would be bothered by.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Decatur Man Kills 5-year-old Son

On Monday, a Decatur man was charged with killing his 5-year-old son and attempting to kill the 4-year-old as well. The man and his estranged wife were in the process of a divorce. The mother's attorney speculates that this was the father's way of hurting the mother. He was seeking full custody.
Spruell [the mother's attorney] said Melanie DeToma left her husband in January and sought an uncontested divorce.

The two DeTomas had reached a temporary agreement through mediation, but a final settlement had not yet been reached or filed in court, Spruell said.

The visitation agreement was that the father would have his sons on alternate Fridays until the following Monday morning. This Monday, however, he did not bring the children to his soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law as was the agreement, Spruell said.

That prompted Melanie DeToma to call her lawyer, who called Gary DeToma's attorney.
Spruell and his client then called Decatur police, the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Family and Children Services, but the agencies said there was not enough to allow them to go into Gary DeToma’s apartment without permission.

“We tried to get the property owner and the property manager to let us in, and they said they wouldn’t unless the police let us in,” Spruell said.

“We did everything thing that we could do and not a single government entity wanted to help us out,” Spruell said.

Decatur police said no one responded when an officer went to the door earlier Monday.

"The residence was secure and the officers observed nothing suspicious," the police said in a statement.

Spruell and Melanie DeToma also called Gary DeToma’s employer, who said he had not come to work. State Sun Electric declined to comment.

Melanie DeToma knocked on Miller's door around 8 a.m. and asked her to call the property manager. Miller said the property manager came over immediately, but told police she couldn't let them in. Miller said she was surprised that one of the boys hadn't opened the door. They often opened it for no reason after learning how to, she said, and surely would have answered a knock. She said she was also surprised to see Gary DeToma's van outside the apartment. He usually left for work by 6:30 a.m.

Miller left for work. Later, one of Gary DeToma’s co-workers came to check on him. When Gary DeToma didn’t answer his knocks, the co-worker, an electrician, took an extension ladder off his truck and climbed up to look into a bedroom window, Spruell said. He saw Gary Jr.’s body on a bed, the attorney said.

The co-worker was able to persuade the younger boy to open the door.

“He went in and saw Mr. DeToma and the little boy was deceased,” Spruell said.

Moments later, Melanie DeToma made her second trip of the day to the her husband’s apartment.

When she drove up, she saw the co-worker standing on the sidewalk with Will, still in his pajamas.

A police report says an officer who was dispatched to the apartment just before 1 p.m. found the dead boy. The official cause of Gary Jr.'s death is pending an autopsy to be performed Tuesday, but the results will not be released until a toxicology report is completed in two to three weeks.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the DeToma family.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Man Shoots Ex, Kills Self in Augusta

An Augusta man with a history of stalking the mother of his children shot her at the plant where she works before turning the gun on himself. The man was angry that his victim would not renew their relationship.

The man -- identified as Alfonicia Gilbert, 35, of the 2800 block of King Street in Augusta -- shot his ex-girlfriend as she sat in her car in the parking lot of the Covidien plant at 1430 Marvin Griffin Road about 7 a.m., Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Calvin Chew said.

Afterward, he turned the gun on himself.

Chew said the woman, identified as Tiffany Bush, 28, of Girard, Ga., was in serious condition at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
Gilbert did not have a restraining order against him, but it is clear that he was stalking the victim.

Gilbert was recently thrown out of a doctor's office Bush was visiting, Chew said.

"He came there unannounced and made a scene," he said.
No domestic violence charges had ever been filed against Gilbert, but this incident makes it clear that not all, and maybe not even most, victims of domestic violence go to the police. Especially in stalking situations, the victim might not identify with the label of "domestic violence" or "stalking" and might not think of calling the police. Alternately, they might not believe the police can help them. It is vital that friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers understand what domestic violence and stalking look like, so that they can advise victims that help is available.

Additionally, this further underscores the need for employers to take domestic violence seriously. According to CBS news:

The shooting comes a day after a man angry about a child custody dispute with his girlfriend shot her outside the New Mexico manufacturing plant where she works, then forced his way inside and killed two employees before turning the gun on himself. The girlfriend remains in critical condition.
If you would like Women's Resource Center to help your Atlanta-based business create a plan for helping employees dealing with domestic violence, and for keeping your other employees safe, please call us at 404-370-7670. Outside of Atlanta, call 1-800-799-SAFE to be connected to an organization in your area.

The Bush family is in our thoughts and prayers and we wish Tiffany Bush a full and speedy recovery.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Atlanta Man, 19, Kills Girlfriend, 17

Atlanta police Wednesday were looking for a 19-year-old man suspected of shooting his 17-year-old girlfriend to death.
The shooting happened shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday at a home on Detroit Avenue in northwest Atlanta, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office.

"It appeared that there was some type of argument," Atlanta police Lt. Paul Guerrucci told WSB-TV. "At this point, we're not clear ... what the argument was about."

The names of the suspect and the victim, who WSB reported was pregnant, have not been released.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Shellman, GA Man Kills Girlfriend

A Randolph County, Georgia woman was shot and killed Sunday. Her boyfriend shot himself but survived, and now faces murder charges.

Family members say Carolyn Johnson and her boyfriend of several years, Ricky Starling started arguing the morning of July fourth. But family members say the argument quickly escalated, and Randy Starling pulled out one of his shot guns shooting Carolyn twice, as family members including several of her grandchildren were just feet away.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Johnson family.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

3 Shot, 1 Dead in Auburn Shooting Spree

A Barrow County man shot three men, killing one, Tuesday night before carjacking a truck and fleeing to Buford, where he was apprehended before he could harm his girlfriend, authorities said.

James W. Bush, 42, of Winder, is charged in the crime spree that began about 8:40 p.m. in a Woodview Drive yard near Auburn, police said. Upon his capture, Bush became unresponsive, possibly the result of a drug overdose. He remains hospitalized, authorities said.

A motive for the shootings is under investigation but appears to be domestic-related, said Barrow County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. Todd Druse.

Police said Bush opened fire outside the residence, where they found two men injured in the front yard and another man — Antonio Zavala, 30 — dead in a nearby vehicle.

The injured victims were identified as Alex Lopez Narvaez, 31, and Alvaro Zavala Echevarria, 35. Both are listed in stable condition at area hospitals and are expected to recover.
Gwinnett police received information that Bush may have wanted to harm his girlfriend, thought to be living near Buford and working at a Sonny’s Barbecue restaurant on Ga. Highway 20, said Gwinnett police Cpl. Edwin Ritter.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Bush was released from prison in April after serving two years for entering a vehicle and possessing tools to commit a crime in Gwinnett County.
We are so grateful that police intervened before Bush could reach his intended victim, but saddened by the injury and death of his other victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Zavala family.