The Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force tracked down Steven Smitherman charging him with domestic violence by strangulation. Major Anthony Lowery with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office told FOX10 News, “Essentially on April 13 he beat and choked a family member and was subsequently charged with that.”
Kathy Wood, a Court Advocate for domestic violence victims, says strangulation is an insidious form of domestic abuse that gives an abuser almost total power over a victim. “It basically debilitizes you,” Wood said. “You can’t breathe, you can’t call out for help. It is the ultimate control.”
A couple of years ago, an abuser could take that control with little consequences but a recent upgrade to the law changed that. The law that made strangulation a felony was passed in 2011 and it now carries real jail time anywhere from 2 to 20 years. “Now it’s a class b felony – you can go to prison. That’s a little bit different than just being put on probation, like I said a slap on the wrist,” Wood told us.
Wood said felony domestic violence charges are already making an impact. “They are prosecuting cases and I think it sends a message to the victims and I think it sends a message to the defendants,” Wood said. “We’re all in it for the same reason. It’s for the protection of the victim.”
As for Smitherman, he is out of jail on a $25,000 bond.
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