Posted on August 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm
Jennifer Martel knew her murderer well.
He was the father of her child and a batterer freshly released from jail the day before he killed her.
Legislators from both branches on Beacon Hill passed a domestic violence bill late Thursday night.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said the Taunton High School graduate’s killing helped inspire the bill.
The legislation creates new crimes for domestic assault and strangulation. It also grants victims 15 days leave from work for counseling or medical attention.
If signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, those arrested on domestic violence charges will now be held in custody for a six-hour “cooling off” period.
“This will be a great bill and a major step forward for public safety in Massachusetts,” said Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter. “There are so many parts to this bill which I am extremely confident will reduce domestic violence and save lives.”
Jared Remy murdered Martel in Waltham, one day after he was arrested and charged with assault for slamming her face into a mirror.
Remy, son of Red Sox announcer and restaurateur Jerry Remy, was released quickly on the assault charges. There was no “cooling off” period and the Middlesex District Attorney filed no request to hold the repeat domestic batterer, a man previously accused of beating several different victims over a period spanning his entire adult life.
The domestic violence bill passed the House on a unanimous roll call vote.
“I am happy that this significant legislation will help address the problem of domestic violence,” said state Rep. Keiko M Orrall, R-Lakeville. “One important piece will give people the ability to purchase self-defense sprays like pepper spray without a firearms identification card. This is an issue that has been worked on for years that has finally been resolved.”
State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, praised the bill and the statement it sends to domestic abusers.
“Having reached out to women in a community forum on domestic violence with New Hope last October, survivors expressed to us many concerns including the need for a domestic violence registry and immediate penalties for batterers,” O’Connell said Thursday. “It is a victory for victims and survivors of domestic violence that this bill establishes a registry and creates penalties for a first offense. We have to send an unequivocal message that domestic violence will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly.”
The bill cleared the Senate on a voice vote.
“I am pleased the Conference Committee has released a bill that will help protect domestic violence victims and to prevent future assaults in the commonwealth,” said state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton. “This bill is about improving the support network for residents across the state who are vulnerable to these abuses, and to ensuring those who survive domestic attacks have the resources they need to move forward from those crimes safely and positively.”
Remy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in May, and will spend life in state prison without the possibility of parole. He admitted to strangling and stabbing Martel.
“Two provisions which for me really stand out and will assist district attorneys throughout the commonwealth are the new strangulation/suffocation statute and the abolishment of accord and satisfactions,” Sutter said. “We prosecutors have been hampered by having to charge strangulation as an assault and battery, which is not nearly a severe enough charge against someone who has strangled or suffocated another person.”
Legislators hope they can prevent men like Remy from getting out of jail before their victims have a chance to seek safe haven. And prosecutors hope the bill will help them hold guilty abusers responsible for their crimes, and perhaps make the victim’s role in the justice system slightly less painful.
“Similarly, we have been hindered by having so many domestic violence cases dismissed upon the submission of a superficial accord and satisfaction form,” Sutter said. “As soon as this bill is signed into law, victims in Massachusetts will be safer.”
Posted on August 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm