Sunday, August 26, 2012

North Naples, FL: Records: North Naples homicide victim twice called 911 on ex before killing

Twice in the month before she was killed, Konnie Bedell called 911 about her ex-boyfriend violating a no-contact order, records obtained by the Daily News show.

But in each case Bedell was ultimately uncooperative with responding Collier County sheriff's deputies, preventing them from pursuing an arrest.

Bedell, 44, was fatally shot on the back porch of her mother's North Naples home at 115 Flame Vine Drive on Aug. 8.

In a six-minute 911 call on July 22, Bedell told a dispatcher that her ex, Lawrence MacDonald, 44, was in front of the house.

"Please hurry," she said in a hushed voice. "I have a restraining order against him, and he's banging on my front door."

On Aug. 3, Bedell called 911 again. MacDonald was texting her, she said, while she and her two sons were staying at her mother's home because it was safer than her own. A Collier dispatcher said deputies would patrol the area.

After Bedell was killed five days later, investigators named MacDonald a "person of interest," although he has not been arrested or identified as a formal suspect.

Sheriff's Office records show serious allegations of domestic violence against MacDonald dating to July 2011, but officials said Bedell was an uncooperative victim that made prosecuting him difficult.

No report was taken July 22, but notes from the responding deputy said the caller "does not want to press charges despite our urging," Capt. Chris Roberts said.

On earlier occasions where reports were taken, Roberts said Bedell consistently refused help.

"She starts out, you know — she makes the call, deputies respond — and she starts not being cooperative," Roberts said. "She didn't help us help her, so to speak."

Deputies could have arrested MacDonald without Bedell's help if they heard a fight on the 911 call or saw him engaged in unlawful activity.

Although sending text messages is a violation of a no-contact order, officials said they could only have accessed MacDonald's alleged messages with Bedell's consent, which apparently was not given.

"Had she been cooperative and provided us with the phone and cooperated with investigators … and of course if the text messages and other evidence in the investigation corroborated that — we would have had a good strong case and arrested him without question," Roberts said.

Lisa Wiseman, a spokeswoman for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she encounters many situations where a victim of domestic violence doesn't press charges.

"We see situations where they may be harassing her from the jail, or saying if you press charges, I'm going to do whatever," Wiseman said. "Or he may be saying, 'I'll never do this again; I'm sorry.'"

Lawmakers made an amendment to the Florida Evidence Code this spring that was intended to allow police to use statements from domestic violence victims in court, even if they don't want to testify.

"If someone is not moving forward with a prosecution and the reason is because of a batterer or stalker, it allows law enforcement to move forward with the prosecution," Wiseman said.

An investigation into Bedell's killing is ongoing. Roberts said MacDonald is "the only person of interest."

"We continue to conduct the investigation, and we have several evidentiary items pending further analysis," he said. "It just takes time."

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