The second concern we have is that many judges and law enforcement personnel just don't "get" how lethal stalking behavior can be. Alissa Blanton had not been in a romatic relationship with her stalker. Perhaps the judge felt she wasn't really at risk of violence. Perhaps he just didn't want to read the 70+ pages of her petition. As we now know, her stalker/murderer, Roger Troy, was extremely lethal. But her death should have been a wake up call to every judge in this State to review what the Florida Statutes say about stalking.
From what has been reported in the media, it would appear as though Ms. Turner was being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. As reported in the Sentinel,
Loni Amber Turner was afraid. An ex-boyfriend she'd met online wouldn't leave her alone. He sent her text messages. He watched her apartment. He showed up at the trade school where she was a student. "I am really afraid to come out of the apartment, …" she wrote in a domestic violence petition last week.Even though the judge set a hearing for September 3rd, her request for a temporary injunction was denied, mostly likely because she did not state that there had been any acts or overt threats of violence. Or perhaps it was because she had tried to remain friendly with Mr. Ross after the relationship was officially over.
If stalkers aren't stopped, their behavior can escalate and become violent. Ms. Turner's effort to stop her tormentor was not taken as seriously as it should have been. Circuit Judge William A. Parsons said that Turner had failed to prove she was in danger. By issuing a summons, without a temporary injunction at the same time, the judge put her at a higher risk for victimization.
What Judge Parsons tragically did not seem to understand is that Mr. Ross' behavior was indeed dangerous, even though he did not physically assault Ms Turner.
Seventy-five percent (75%) of fatalities occur when the relationship is in the process of ending or has recently ended. By putting Mr. Ross on notice that his victim wanted him to stay away from her, and by not issuing a court order telling him to stay away, Judge Parsons' Order Setting Hearing (OSH) may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back in this situation.
OK, I know, I said I wouldn't rehash the OSH issue. I just couldn't stop myself.
The US Department of Justice Stalking Victimization Study (Jan 2009) estimated that 3.4 million persons were victims of stalking during a 12 month period. Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Individually, the acts that were measured are not criminal in nature. But when done repeatedly and collectively, they may cause the victim to fear for his or her safety. The behaviors measured in the study are:
- making unwanted phone calls
- sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails
- following or spying on the victim
- showing up at places without a legitimate reason
- waiting at places for the victim
- leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers
The number of cases where criminal charges were not filed is disgraceful:
To everyone in law enforcement: If Alissa Blanton's death didn't wake you up, Loni Amber Turner's death certainly should.