Thursday, January 24, 2013

Article: Spate of domestic-violence killings revives special panel

They were gunned down in an International Drive hotel. They were shot to death in a Casselberry hair salon.
Those shootings and other domestic-violence attacks claimed the lives of 14 people during a three-month span last year.
Now politicians and community leaders are joining forces in hopes of curbing the rash of violence in Metro Orlando.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced Tuesday that a domestic-violence commission originally formed in 2005 will reconvene in February.
The Orange County Domestic Violence Commission will look for potential weaknesses in the criminal-justice system that could lead to violence and come up with possible solutions and ways to implement those plans.
The commission will be co-chaired by Orange Circuit Judge Alice Blackwell and community philanthropist Dick Batchelor.
Jacobs said she expects a preliminary report from the commission by May.
"Cleary we have problems, but equally clearly we can take proactive steps to deal with these problems," Jacobs said Tuesday. "It's time to reconvene that commission to take a new look and determine what our next steps will be."
Orange County has been plagued by domestic-violence homicides and suicides during the past several years. There were 17 domestic-violence-related deaths in Orange County in 2012 — compared with 21 in 2011.
On Sunday an Orange County woman was found lying in a pool of blood in a neighbor's driveway after she was nearly stabbed to death by her estranged husband, authorities said.
Deputies arrested 33-year-old Altherio Sharpton, who is now facing numerous charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping.
The woman had obtained a permanent domestic-violence injunction against Sharpton last week. She was in critical condition late Monday.
Orange County Clerk of Courts Lydia Gardner announced Tuesday that the paperwork needed to seek an injunction can now be downloaded from her agency's website.
Petitioners will be able to fill out the paperwork in the privacy of their home, print it out and then submit it at the courthouse.
Petitioners used to have to go to the Orange County Courthouse to get access to the necessary documents.
Blackwell said she hopes the reconvened commission will build on the success of the 2005 panel, which helped implement several changes, including creation of a special domestic-violence court and a streamlined process to seek domestic-violence injunctions.
It also gave judges access to criminal-history databases to aid in determining whether an injunction should be granted.
"Headlines have been inundated with acts of domestic violence ...," Blackwell said. "As a community we have seen entirely too many senseless killings, and it's time that we say enough is enough."
In late September, Carlene Pierre and Vanessa Gonzalez-Orellanes were gunned down inside an International Drive-area hotel after Pierre's estranged boyfriend shot them. Michelet Polynice then drove to another nearby resort and shot Pierre's best friend in the stomach. She survived the shooting.
Polynice, a criminal with a violent past, led deputies on a chase that ended with a fiery crash in Pine Hills. A deputy who was driving behind Polynice saw the suspect raise a gun to his head and pull the trigger just before the crash.
In October, Casselberry and Orlando police investigated a deadly killing spree that left five people dead and one critically injured.
Bradford Baumet killed his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, Roberto Carlos Colon, in Orlando and then stole the dead man's car. Baumet then drove to the Casselberry hair salon co-owned by his ex-girlfriend, Marcia Santiago. He shot four women, killing three of them. Eugenia "Mari" Marte, Noelia Gonzalez-Brito of Kissimmee and customer Gladys Cabrera, 52, of Orlando all died. Santiago survived the shooting.
Baumet then drove to a friend's nearby home and killed himself.
In both shootings, the victims had sought injunctions against the violent men. Baumet and Santiago were due in court the same day the shooting occurred.
Pierre and her co-worker were killed just hours after Polynice was served with the injunction that ordered him to leave Pierre alone.
The commission will meet Feb. 8 at the Orange County Administration Building. The meeting will be open to the public.

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