Domestic violence cases too often get dismissed in court because the relationships are emotional and often the victim's story changes to protect the abuser. A $200,000 federal grant will be used to hire a team to specialize in these complicated cases and help make sure they are heard in court. Assistant District Attorney Gina Essey says around 550 domestic violence cases cross her desk every year in Brunswick County alone. About one third are dismissed in court. “One thing that most people don't understand is that almost all of the victim's of domestic violence either recant or change their story. The victims want the violence to end but they want to continue the relationship because they love the person and they love the good things about that person that they see outside of the violence,” Essey said. In a recent case in Brunswick County, a domestic violence victim dropped a restraining order against her alleged abuser, Alton Lawrence Walters and the two lived together for another year. This past Sunday, a deputy shot and killed Walters after responding to a disturbance call. Thanks to a federal grant last year, Brunswick County was able to start a domestic violence prosecution program. Now it's Columbus and Bladen's turn. "Because of the dynamics in the relationships between the parties involved in the crime, you have to have a specialized prosecutor to coordinate all of the resources available to the victim, and to make sure the case is fully prosecuted from beginning to end,” Essey explained. The new grant will allow Columbus and Bladen counties to start their own program with a specialized prosecutor and victim witness coordinator to handle the cases for the next two years. The additional caseworkers will be trained in Brunswick County's domestic violence program. The new prosecution program will begin in Columbus County in November.
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