OKLAHOMA CITY – A case involving an Oklahoma City man killed two days after he was sentenced to probation for his second domestic violence conviction in six months highlights a common struggle for the government: how to stop the perpetrators if the victims are not witnesses, a prosecutor and anti-violence advocates say.
The Oklahoma County district attorney’s office is reviewing the case to decide whether an indictment against the wife of the man. Christina Mary Mason, 33, told the police that she fatally shot her husband, Boyd Quisenberry, 39 when he attacked her with a knife Nov. 29. Detectives interviewed Mason, but not arrest her.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater will determine whether Mason should be prosecuted. He could decide the shooting was self-defense. Oklahoma City police are investigating the shooting, and there is a report on Prater in the office of a process that Sgt. Gary Knight said can take up to three weeks.
Prater said Mason refused to testify about the abuse, which forced a plea bargain for Quisenberry, which resulted in a probationary period as a punishment than imprisonment. Prater and advocates for abuse victims say the victims have a lot of complicated reasons for a refusal to appear in court, but that can lead to attacks and go back home to the people that they hurt.
Quisenberry received a three year suspended sentence Nov. 27 after pleading guilty to domestic violence assault and battery and violating a protective order. Earlier this year he received three-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to domestic violence by strangulation and 90 days in prison on charges of interfering with an emergency telephone call.
Mason did not show up to testify in both cases, Prater said, and the officer of justice was not to be a conviction without her testimony.
“They refused to cooperate and we are not able to get her on the court,” Prater said. “We have in fact had to agree to continue the probation.”
A working phone number for Mason could not be found, and they could not be reached for comment on this story.
But Ruth Glenn, executive director of the Denver-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says that it is not uncommon for abuse victims to avoid court. She estimates that up to 75% do not show up. Many fear future retaliation if they testify against their perpetrator, ” she said.
“It’s not that they don’t want the violence to stop. They (do) want the violence to stop, but the fear of future violence is sometimes more frightening,” Glenn said.
Candida Manion, executive director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual abuse, agreed with Glenn that fear is cited as a primary factor for the victims not to testify.
“They are intimidated by the perpetrator. … They fear they will feel his wrath again,” Manion said.
An Oklahoma woman who said she survived several years of abuse at the hands of her now ex-husband said that domestic violence victims also have a sense of shame and worthlessness. Misty Martin-Sullins testified against her then-husband preliminary hearing, he pleaded no contest to the charges in the case. He also reached a plea deal with the prosecutors.
“If you are not the victim … then you don’t know what it is to stand in a courtroom and have your attacker staring, grinning from ear to ear,” Martin-Sullins said.
Glenn said she knows of no database that keeps track of how many victims who kill their abusers, but both she and Prater said: it is unusual.
“It happens, but it is very rare that the victim, quote-unquote, ‘run'” Glenn said.
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