Domestic violence summit sheds light on growing problem


by Kelsey Starks

Posted on November 8, 2009 at 5:56 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 9 at 1:09 AM

A first of its kind summit is kicking off in Louisville aiming to end domestic violence.

It comes at a time when major changes could be in the works for Kentucky’s current domestic violence laws.

On September 11, 2009, Amanda Ross was shot to death outside her Lexington condominium.

Investigators say her ex-fiancé was the person who pulled the trigger, former state lawmaker Steve Nunn.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

"Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy at times for folks to say hey, we need something reasonable. We need something that's common sense that will put people who are at risk in a position of safety,” said Mary Lou Marzian (D), Louisville.

Amanda's story made headlines but every day, Kentucky courtrooms are filled with similar stories of domestic violence that we don't always hear about.

“I think what frustrates me is that we all want to make sense of it. We all want to decide what happened. We all want to find out if the victim could have done something, which is just the wrong way to look at things," said Marcia Roth of the Mary Byron Project.

The next general assembly session in Frankfort will see a bill that, if passed, would be called "Amanda's Law."

It would order the most dangerous domestic violence offenders to wear GPS monitoring devices. Amanda's family has said although she had a protective order against her ex-fiancé, she never knew he was allegedly close enough to be violating it.

“Those batterers who have been prosecuted, placed on probation. It's always been an option. So I’m not sure why we haven't been using it," said Judge Jerry Bowles.

He sees domestic violence offenders in his courtroom every day.

He says such a law would have to have law enforcement response to work. It's a law that is already in effect in at least 15 other states.

The Mary Byron Project is hosted the first of its kind summit to end domestic violence in Louisville running Sunday-Tuesday.

Anyone can attend and hear about programs happening across the country and how you can get involved. It's all happening at the Seelbach Hotel.