Montgomery County hopes domestic violence court will save lives

- Back in July, it was shocking to say the least. A man in Montgomery County suffering from PTSD and going through a divorce shoots and kills his 3-year-old daughter then takes his own life. 

"There's a lot of murders that we have and murder suicides that we have that are domestic violence related," Judge Phil Grant said. 

That's why the Montgomery County District Attorney's office has teamed up with Judge Grant—to prevent more tragic scenes like this where domestic violence ends with a murder suicide.  

"It's all about saving lives and healing families and protecting victims in these types of cases," said Grant.

The county has developed the felony domestic violence court.  The sole purpose will be to address the more serious domestic violence cases before someone ends up dead. 

"Our felony cases, the ones that will be subject to this docket we have seen them increase since 2013 so that's concerning," Montgomery County Assistant DA Tyler Dunman said.

Here are the numbers: in 2013 there were 226 felony domestic violence cases in Montgomery County, by 2014 up to 253, and in 2015 there were 257 cases. Time to act because Dunman says the cases were not getting enough scrutiny in the past to prevent a death. 

"If we can develop a process to where they are given greater attention, or there’s more red flags that we could see, or how to train law enforcement to see them, our office internally, how to screen those out. It would help us maybe prevent some of these more violence instances from occurring," Dunman said. 

Felony domestic violence court will meet as often as needed to provide guidance and counseling to defendants along with justice. But Grant says most cases will move swiftly to insure couples aren't left out in the community lingering. 

"Putting these things on expedited dockets, keeps those economic and social pressures from overwhelming victims,” Grant said. “But also people that are accused of a crime, the sooner we can get them before a jury and get this case resolved, the sooner that family can start healing."

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