An effort in to curb domestic violence in Rhode Island comes on the heels of a brutal murder. It was fueled by a Johnston woman, who police said was killed and dismembered by her husband.
Like many domestic violence victims, the day Stacie Dorego was killed wasn't the first time she was assaulted. Her husband tried to strangle her just a few years before, but the only protection police could give her at the time was a restraining order. Now, there's a new bill that may have saved her.
We've gotten to know Stacie Dorego's kids, Lily and Jake. They lost their mom and their home five months ago, after police said their dad strangled and dismembered her.
"In January, my sister was the victim of a terrible crime and Lily and Jake came to live with us," said Stacie sister last month. She's now taking care of both kids. Domestic violence advocates said all of this could have been stopped if a new bill hit the books just a few years earlier.
"This bill was our top priority this year for the legislative session," said Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Deborah DeBare, "Because strangulation is one of the most serious crimes, particularly in a case of domestic violence."
Donald Greenslit was arrested for strangling Dorego back in 2009. Back then, all police could give her was a restraining order. Under the new bill, he'd face a felony charge and a maximum sentence of ten years. That could have saved Dorego's life.
"Exactly," said DeBare, "That was one example of the many cases we see where victims lives are in jeopardy."
The passage of the bill was a huge win for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. At the same time, though, the was a large loss for the advocacy group and victims like Dorego, 25 percent of its state funding was slashed.
"We're trying to regroup and figure out how to continue to provide the core services that all victims need when they're going through the court program trying to get a restraining order and trying to protect themselves and their children," said DeBare.
The governor has not signed the bill yet. 30 other states have passed domestic violence laws like this one including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.