Investigators Don't Solely Rely On Testimony From Abuse Victims - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/26/05 - East Texas

Investigators Don't Solely Rely On Testimony From Abuse Victims

by Ramonica R. Jones

Many times, an abused woman will not report, let alone press charges against, her abuser. It's frustrating, but not surprising.

Texas Ranger Pete Maskunas said, "An abused spouse, especially women, feel that if they just don't do anything, that everything will go away and it'll be fine. And statistics show that it takes at least six incidents before they'll even consider leaving or getting out of the situation."

It's understandably difficult to get an abuse victim to testify against her attacker in court. Most battered women don't want to relive the abuse, some fear retaliation from the abuser's friends or family, others are embarrased.

In the case against David Mitchell, his wife did take the stand, but her testimony shocked almost everyone.

"Once they've made the determination that they are going to testify, I cannot say, of any incident in 20 years of law enforcement, where I've had the victim get on the stand and back off the statement that they've made previously; usually, that happens well before we get to trial."

Even though his wife testified he may not have been the person who fired shots at her, a jury still convicted David Mitchell on two counts of aggravated assault and sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

"If you don't have the physical evidence or don't have any way to corroborate the statement evidence, then you're not going to have a case anyway. So, in this case in particular, we examined the physical, we examined the statements, and the physical evidence matched the statements."

Reporting and documenting each case of domestic violence can help put an abusive spouse in prison, but more importantly, it could also help save your life.

If you need protection from an abusive spouse, contact the Women's Shelter of East Texas at 1-800-828-7233. The center can help you file a protective order against your abuser and guide you in leaving the relationship.

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