Santa Clara County had 11 domestic violence-related deaths last year, the most since 2003, Assistant District Attorney Rolanda Pierre-Dixon announced today. At a news conference this morning, Pierre-Dixon discussed a 2009 report by the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, a multi-disciplinary team that reviewed 4,538 cases referred to the district attorney’s office for prosecution. The district attorney’s office filed charges in 2,686 cases, equating to 51 new criminal cases each week. Of the cases reviewed, 11 people died in five separate incidents. Eight of those deaths were murder/suicides in two incidents, two were homicides and one death resulted from vehicular manslaughter, according to the report. In comparison, there were three domestic violence related deaths in 2008 in three incidents. The highest number of deaths occurred in 2003, with 21 deaths in 14 incidents. The committee compiled a list of red flags based on a trend in the deaths they reviewed, including separation or talk of it prior to the homicide, jealousy or possessiveness, unreported domestic violence, unemployment or underemployment, stalking behavior, threats of suicide or homicide, depression and kidnapping or falsely imprisoning a victim. Perpetrators showed tendencies like not having friends outside of the relationship, controlling their victim financially and becoming distraught at the discussion of separation. They tended to have attachment issues stemming from developmental years, with untreated or inadequately treated mental health issues, and displayed meticulous planning prior to the death.
Pierre-Dixon said those traits should be warning signs for victims and their families. “Do not excuse that conduct. Listen to that voice and get out of that situation,” she advised. Statistics indicated eight deaths were from the Asian community, two were from the Hispanic community and one from the white community. One death was from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. No deaths were reported in the black community or immigrant community, which includes anyone who has been in the U.S. less than 10 years. The ages of homicide victims ranged from 11 months to 42-years-old. No seniors died in domestic violence related deaths in 2009, for the fifth consecutive year. Three children between 11 months and 11 years old lost their lives in domestic violence incidents. One child survived
domestic violence but lost both parents. Substance abuse was a factor in one case, according to the report. In three cases, the couples involved were separated, divorced or discussing those options at the time of the deaths. The committee believes these findings show separation or discussing separation is a dangerous time for victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Death Review Committee was created in 1994 by the Domestic Violence Council. The committee representatives are from the district attorney’s office, department of corrections, local law enforcement agencies, therapeutic community, victim advocacy agencies, probation department, pretrial services, department of family and children’s services, adult protective services, Asian Pacific Family Communities Against Domestic Violence, San Jose’s family/domestic violence advisory board, family court services, Family Law Bar and the coroner’s office. The committee believes that some of the ways domestic violence issues can be prevented are through continued reporting of non-lethal incidents by the community, arrest and confiscation of guns by police officers, prosecution by the district attorney’s office, appropriate sentences for perpetrators by judges, advocacy and support by community organizations, collaborative community awareness and campaigns, and
counseling for victims, children and perpetrators. “We feel that all of us here today are working very, very hard to eliminate domestic violence in our community and we’re working hard to continue that in 2010,” Pierre-Dixon said.
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