In San Diego, headlines about women killed by intimate partners have become all too common. A new report from The Washington Post finds that although San Diego was the nation’s safest of America’s largest cities in terms of violent crime last year, 51 percent of women killed in the city during the past decade died at the hands of a violent partner—the highest of any city analyzed by the news organization.
San Diego County’s district attorney’s family protection unit told The Post it prosecuted 94 domestic violence homicides from 2007 to 2017, although the number of domestic violence deaths countywide has dropped in the past few years due to strategic efforts to reduce the deadly trend.
“The nation’s first family justice center opened in San Diego in 2002, and the fatality review team started 22 years ago,” The Post reported. “Its police department has a dedicated domestic violence unit. It was on the leading edge of programs that are now commonplace around the country, including strangulation training. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office received a grant last year to create an algorithm to predict which cases have the potential to turn fatal.
“Slayings of intimate partners often are especially brutal, involving close encounters such as stabbings, strangulation and beatings, The Post report continued.
Nationwide, a quarter of the 2,051 women killed by intimate partners were stabbed, compared with fewer than 10 percent of all other homicides. “Eighteen percent of women who were killed by partners were attacked with a blunt object or no weapon, compared with 8 percent of other homicide victims. While a gun was used in 80 percent of all other murders, just over half of all women killed as a result of domestic violence were attacked with a gun,” The Post found.
“Violent choking is almost entirely confined to fatal domestic attacks on women—while fewer than 1 percent of all homicides result from strangulation, 6 percent of women killed by intimate partners die in this manner,” The Post report continued.
Attempted strangulation is “the edge of homicide,” Casey Gwinn, a former San Diego city attorney and president and co-founder of Alliance for Hope, told The Post. The organization works with domestic violence and sexual assault victims, and helps train first responders and doctors to spot signs the signs.
“Our goal is to say as soon as you hear ‘he choked me,’ bells and whistles will be going off,” Gwinn told The Post.
Tracy Prior, chief deputy district attorney in San Diego County, told The Post that about 40 percent of the defendants in the domestic homicide cases her office prosecuted from 2007 to 2017 had a prior criminal record.
“You wish you had a crystal ball,” Prior said, “because no prosecutor wants to see the same perpetrator doing that again.”
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