On the heels of a reportedly domestic violence incident that resulted in the death of three people, city officials are working to bring more awareness to abuse among those in pre-existing relationships.
On June 26, a mother and great-grandmother were killed (along with the mother’s current boyfriend) when the mother’s ex-boyfriend opened fire inside a home.
While the victim, Christa Sudduth, never filed a temporary restraining order against the ex-boyfriend, friends and family tell NBC Local 33 that they recall Sudduth with a black eye, which they say was a result of the suspect’s violent nature.
“When it comes to domestic abuse or violence against others, an abuser’s past actions with a partner are a great predictor of their future conduct,” said John J. Price, executive director of the Iris Domestic Violence Center. “If they have abused before, its likely they will do it again. Generally, abuse runs in cycles with each event thereafter being more frequent and usually more violent.”
Court documents from East Baton Rouge show that the suspect in the triple homicide case, Michael L. Wade, was in an altercation with his wife in 2011. While Wade is listed as the victim on record, he admits to a “heated argument” with his wife and said he pushed her after she picked up a children’s scooter and threw it at him.
In East Baton Rouge parish, every individual who files a temporary restraining order (TRO) against another individual automatically receives a court date within 21 days. On the date, the defendant is expected to appear in court too. If there is enough evidence to warrant an upgrade of the TRO, the judge issues a protective order.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, they do get granted,” said Kelly Carpenter, supervisor of the domestic violence department at the EBRP Clerk of Court’s Office.
“We want to make sure people are aware that they can call our office, the clerk of courts office, and do the petition that they need to do,” said Doug Welborn, Clerk of Court for East Baton Rouge Parish.
Since January 1, 2019, the EBRP Clerk of Courts office shows that 607 petitions were filed in family court for protection from abuse. That number is up 12% when compared to this time last year, which saw just 536 petitions filed.
“We’ve got a tremendous increase in them, even though it seems like domestic violence cases are going down, they’re not,” said Welborn.
Welborn told NBC Local 33 that his office hopes to sit down with lawmakers and discuss the idea of a registry that would list domestic abusers.
“Like sex offenders are tagged,” said Welborn, “domestic offenders would be tagged the same way.”