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May 5, 2011 (San Diego) – Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) announced today that her legislation to better educate juries about the severity of unlawful strangulation between partners passed the Senate Public Safety Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

“Almost half of domestic violence homicide victims experienced at least one episode of attempted strangulation before experiencing a lethal or near-lethal violent incident, and victims of attempted strangulation are seven times more likely to become homicide victims,” said Kehoe. “By providing clear legislation to guide judges and juries in addressing this lethal form of violence which occurs particularly often in domestic violence cases, homicides will be reduced, lives saved, and surviving victims will enter a more informed and responsive criminal justice system.”


Under Senate Bill 430, any person who unlawfully strangles or suffocates a spouse or partner could be subject to additional jail time.  It would also require that jurors in a criminal trial receive a more thorough explanation of how serious strangulation is, for purposes of issuing a verdict and sentencing.  The legislation is supported by the California District Attorneys Association, the San Diego County District Attorney, the San Diego Center for Community Solutions, the police departments of Modesto, Anaheim, Ceres, Fresno, and numerous domestic violence organizations.


The bill came in response to the October 2010 murder of National City resident Diana Gonzalez, who was killed by her husband at San Diego City College.  Gonzalez had previously obtained a restraining order against him for domestic violence, including attempted strangulation, and brought related charges against him in 2009 that were later dismissed.   


“This measure will save lives, because women who are ‘choked’ by their partners are 800 percent more likely to be killed later,” said Gael Strack, CEO of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, and a national expert on strangulation laws and policies.  “This bill will give police officers and prosecutors the tools they need to hold abusers accountable before they kill.”    

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