When he took command in February, he said, he was disturbed that statistics for the previous two quarters showed arrests in fewer than 50 percent of domestic-violence cases. "That's now changed," he said.
Barnes said there will be more changes soon with new laws passed by the General Assembly. Beginning in October, court commissioners will no longer be able to set bail for defendants accused of violating a protective order. The defendants will be jailed until they go before a judge.
"That gives us the opportunity to get information," said Hancock. "To talk to the victim and make arrangements for her protection."
Last year, legislation was sponsored by the Carroll County delegation to increase the penalty for a second violation of a protective order, said Barnes. Barnes said he'll try again this session to make homicides resulting from domestic violence eligible for the death penalty if a protective order was in effect at the time. The death penalty does not apply in domestic killings, no matter how much evidence of malice and premeditation exists, unless there is a so-called "aggravating" factor, such as a rape or robbery, a murder for hire, or multiple victims.
"Because these types of homicides are committed under the most aggravating type of circumstances," Barnes said, "they should be death-eligible."
Pub Date: 7/28/99