Report: 34 dead from domestic violence in Minnesota in 2015
ST. PAUL - When 22 women were killed in domestic violence in the state last year, 13 of the alleged perpetrators had previously been accused of abuse, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women said Tuesday. Many of the men's past domestic violen...
ST. PAUL – When 22 women were killed in domestic violence in the state last year, 13 of the alleged perpetrators had previously been accused of abuse, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women said Tuesday. Many of the men's past domestic violence-related charges had been dismissed.
The significant criminal histories of the accused were among the coalition's findings in its annual report about domestic violence homicides. Last year, the group counted at least 34 people who it said lost their lives to domestic violence.
"For 27 years, the number of victims of domestic violence homicide has remained in the double-digits-an unacceptable fact," said Becky Smith, the coalition's public awareness program manager. "One is too many; 34 is horrific."
Of the victims, 22 women and three men were allegedly killed by a current or former intimate partner; the other nine were friends, interveners, bystanders and family members, the coalition said. There were a total of 23 such deaths in 2014.
Key findings of the 2015 Femicide Report included:
- Leaving an abusive relationship often increases the risk of harm: That's because batterers may " 'step up' their efforts to control or intimidate the victim," the report said. Eight of the 22 women killed last year had left or were attempting to leave.
That was the case for Eugenia "Gina" Tallman, who'd confided in a relative she was planning to leave her husband, the coalition said. Prosecutors charged Tallman's husband, Gonzalo Galvan, with fatally shooting her and her 15-year-old daughter, Victoria Alvarez, in their South Minneapolis home in September.
- Past threats to kill the victim "are among the most reliable indicators of lethality and are the most often overlooked by the criminal and civil justice systems," the report said. At least three of the women killed had been subject to past threats.
When April Erickson (also known as April Tennin) was found shot in her Maplewood home in August, her 12-year-old son told police his stepfather had said, "If I ever kill your mom, I'm going to kill the rest of you so there are no witnesses." Prosecutors have charged Erickson's husband with murder.
- Firearm use: Eleven of the 22 women were killed with firearms. In at least 36 percent the cases, the alleged perpetrators were barred from possessing a firearm at the time of the homicide.
- Past domestic violence-related charges: Collectively, the 13 alleged perpetrators with past criminal histories had 76 domestic-violence-related charges against them. Four were pending at the time the women were killed. Of the remaining 72 charges, only 19 had resulted in convictions and the rest had been dismissed, the coalition said.
- Disproportionate impact on women of color: Sixty percent of last year's victims were women of color, and five of the 22 women were Native American.
Patti Larsen, Sacred Hoop Tribal Coalition director, said she wonders about factors such as women remaining with their batterers because they're trying to avoid becoming homeless and a child protective agency taking custody of their children, or law enforcement not believing a woman because of her own criminal history or because she has an addiction.
- Economic stability: One of the most common reasons that domestic-violence victims stay with or return to an abusive partner is lack of financial resources, Smith said. Court records show that 55 percent of the women killed last year had "faced economic instability in the past," she said.
While there are coordinated response teams between the criminal justice system and victim advocacy groups, the coalition says others should be brought into the discussions, such as landlords, housing courts, housing providers and county economic-assistance programs.