Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Article: State probe faults Plymouth police in 2007 domestic violence slayings

PLYMOUTH -- A 2007 murder-suicide in Terryville could have been prevented if police, the court system and a myriad of social service agencies had worked together, the state Office of the Victim Advocate said Monday in a report.

The 45-page report stems from an 18-month investigation and makes recommendations for agencies dealing with domestic violence victims.

The report focuses on "gaps in services" provided to Jennifer G. Magnano and her three children as they attempted to navigate the system of services designed to help domestic violence victims escape abusive relationships. Magnano was shot to death by her husband, Scott Magnano, in front of their teenage son on Aug. 23, 2007 at their home at 164 Scott Road. He then fled in his wife's car and shot himself in nearby woods.

Jennifer Magnano, 42, had left her husband in April 2007 and fled with her children to California to escape what she alleged was a never-ending cycle of "intolerable cruelty" -- physical, emotional and sexual abuse toward her, her daughter from a previous marriage, and her two children with Scott. She was killed in August after she returned to Connecticut to testify at a custody hearing for the couple's two children, David, 15, and Emily, 9.

The report comes down hard on the Plymouth Police Department for failing over four months to advise her to obtain a restraining order against her husband, and for giving her incorrect advice about pressing charges in domestic assault cases. An officer told Magnano that it was her choice, but it is actually the officer's duty to arrest violent offenders if there is enough evidence.

The report notes that officers did not arrest Scott Magnano even though Jennifer Magnano told them in April that her husband's violence had gone on for a long time and recently escalated to serious death threats, bruised ribs and black eyes.

In interviews with the investigators, Plymouth Police Chief Karen Krasicky blamed some of the problems on understaffing, but some on the victim.

"While OVA staff was talking with the Chief, and mentioned Jennifer Magnano, the Chief began to shake her head and said, 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink,'" the report says.

Krasicky and Plymouth Mayor Vincent Festa Jr. declined to comment and referred all questions to Town Attorney Salvatore V. Vitrano. Festa said Vitrano was looking into inaccuracies in the report, but would not elaborate.

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