By: Mark Boyle – 7 News Denver – DENVER – After telling her live-in boyfriend that their relationship was over and he needed to move out, Leanna Stoufer says her life changed forever. She still re-lives that 2008 night like it was yesterday.
“The first time I passed out when he strangled me with the boot laces. I was pretty sure that was ‘this is how I’m going to die,’” said Stoufer. “Said I’ll give you to the count of five and then he told me that I was going to die.”
When Stoufer returned home from work, she says her boyfriend was waiting with a new pair of boot laces. Stoufer says he gave her the opportunity to beg for her life, even though he repeatedly tried to kill her by strangulation. Stoufer was held for 14 hours before help arrived.
It was a call by her ex-husband that tipped him off that Stoufer wasn’t safe. Her ex-husband called police and her attacker was arrested.
Stoufer was left coughing up and throwing up blood, unable to stand or walk much, and emotionally tattered from the abuse.
“At some point I had a near death experience, I left my body, I was thinking this doesn’t hurt now,” said Stoufer.
Her attacker is serving a 10-year prison sentence, but Stoufer is upset with how the state of Colorado classifies strangulation in assault cases.
Right now, there is no mandatory jail time for those who strangle someone else. Thirty-eight other states have laws that send those convicted of strangulation to prison. Still, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey says Colorado isn’t behind the curve when it comes to domestic violence legislation. Morrissey does think the state needs to take strangulation cases more seriously though.
“I think that people don’t understand just how damaging strangulation can be. I think that if anybody has felt that feeling where you somehow have your circulation or your ability to breath constrained, you know that panic, you know what that feels like,” said Morrissey.
Domestic violence advocates are backing a new bill that will be introduced this next legislative session. It would make any strangulation case demand mandatory jail time. A punishment that fits the crime, says Morrissey.
“Unfortunately, most strangulation situations, unless there is extreme external injuries or internal injuries, get filed as misdemeanors,” said Morrissey. “It’s important that Colorado recognizes just how dangerous it is when we have a strangulation situation.”
Doctors warn that even though so many survive these types of attacks, the damage can be long-lasting.
“There are other muscles and structures in the neck that can be damaged in strangulation, but the main issue is really compression of those arteries causing unconsciousness and death,” said Dr. Chris McStay, with University of Colorado Hospital. “Some of them whom suffered brain injury from basically having a complete lack of oxygen to their brain who ultimately did have a return of circulation and ultimately did live but suffered from tremendous brain injuries and permanent disability.”
The bill that’s being authored does have a cost associated with it. Advocates are concerned a bleak Colorado state budget picture will ultimately leave the bill in the trash can. However, District Attorney Mitch Morrissey says the state needs to find a way to fund this effort.
“I think they need to put this aside, there is money there and if it’s limited, they should use it in this situation, this is one of those things that is so important,” said Morrissey.
It’s unclear right now how much support the bill may garner from state lawmakers.
The 17th General Assembly will convene on January 13, 2016.
To access the original article, please click here:Domestic Violence Advocates, Denver DA Seek Bill For Stronger Strangulation Laws In Colorado