Thursday, April 23, 2009

All That We Can Do

Sometimes, you do all that you can do. And it isn't enough to stop the evil from happening.

A suspect beat his baby’s momma within an inch of her life. He was stopped by a witness who came to her rescue with a shovel. The police were unable to arrest the suspect when they found him, much later. They didn’t get there when the assault was happening, and the Defendant didn’t appear to be an immediate threat of continuing domestic violence when they made contact. That’s one of the deals about arresting people. It has to be done within the scope of the law, and the law said it couldn’t be done. Any conviction obtained if that arrest had gone down would be thrown out, and the suspect free to do it again.

A warrant for his arrest was filed. That’s all that could be done. The rest depends on the suspect getting arrested. Hopefully, an officer will see him on the street and make the arrest. Maybe a traffic stop ends up with the suspect getting flagged because the warrant shows up in the computer. Maybe he’s caught in the act of another crime. Maybe he dies of a drug overdose, or is killed by one of his buddies in a drug crazed fit of rage. Maybe a detective gets lucky and finds him after a diligent search.

Maybe the Defendant slips under the radar altogether.

The same suspect this weekend broke into a house where his baby momma had taken refuge with a nice couple. She made it out the window and lived.

Her rescuers didn’t. They were murdered. Horribly. They were in their 20's. Their life extinguished because they chose to love their neighbor, and shelter a domestic violence victim.

It’s sad, and senseless. But the fault does not lie with law enforcement. They did all they could, all the law allowed them to do. It wasn’t enough.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely devastating.

That's a perfect example of why the domestic violence laws, as well as others, could use some overhaul. It's as if the proof that is required needs to, at times, give way to common sense. But maybe that's where jurors come in, or so the system hopes.

And thankfully there are people like you representing the State of Texas to help the jurors get it right. Thanks for doing your part.

Reverend Robbie said...

OK, I might not have the most detached perspective on this, because I have a sister who was murdered by her husband after years of violence.

But, as I read the facts as you've presented them, the police arrived on the scene of an assault, had a witness who had stopped the alleged perpetrator, apparently(from what you've said), had the perpetrator there, albeit injured, and chose not to arrest him because he was no longer a danger?

Excuse me?

That is not all that they could do. They could and should have arrested the perpetrator and charged him with assault. The only reason they didn't is because "domestic violence" is treated as if it really isn't a crime, as if the couple just needs to "work things out". Excuses are made about the woman not being willing to bring charges, but the victim doesn't have to bring charges in an assault. There seems to have been ample evidence that an assault was committed, and no reason not to arrest.

I'm sorry, but unless assault laws are somehow negated by marriage or cohabitation, then it certainly seems that the police dropped the ball on this case and let a dangerous man go free.

Kyle The Opinionated said...

First, thanks for the comment. I am sorry for your loss, deeply. What I see that isn't drug fueled violence is domestic violence, and it's tragic, senseless, and hard to deal with from the family side and the law enforcement side.

Allow me to clarify: the perpetrator was not at the scene when officers found him. He was several miles away, and quite a bit of time had passed. I should have clarified that a bit more in my initial post. Officers cannot make an arrest in this kind of case unless they witness it, or believe there is a problem of immediate violence if somebody doesn't go to jail. Otherwise, a warrant has to be obtained. In this case, one was. But I agree that it was too little, far too late.

Kyle The Opinionated said...

...I would add a typcial domestic violence case is difficult to prosecute. The law does allow us to prosecute even when the victim doesn't want to cooperate. However, jury appeal to such a case is almost nil. It makes getting a conviction very tough indeed. We also see the victims change their story. Sometimes they will do it on the witness stand, which makes you nervous bcause you can't knowingly allow somebody on the stand who's going to commit perjury.

The classic signs of escalation were there, and law enforcement did what they could to head it off. Again, given the facts of this case, which I didn't fully make clear when I made the post, there was literally nothing the police could have done after the first incident.

Reverend Robbie said...

Thanks for the clarification, because that does make a difference. I agree that it is often difficult to get these cases prosecuted, mainly because we need to do some attitude-changing in the general public about what the consequences of domestic violence are.

Anonymous said...


Arrest this bum and put me on the jury!