‘Allison’s Law’ aims to protect domestic violence survivors in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Domestic violence remains a big problem in the Triangle and across the country.

Last year alone, there were 64 domestic violence homicides in the state, according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Eight of those deaths were in Wake County, while six were in Cumberland County.

“I was in a relationship, and it was just words and a little pushing and shoving here and there. And then it started being where I was controlled in every way.”

CBS North Carolina covered many of these heartbreaking crimes and now takes a closer look at the issue and a new bill that could help protect victims.

People are supposed to feel safe in their own home, but for some that isn’t the case.

“I was in a relationship, and it was just words and a little pushing and shoving here and there. And then it started being where I was controlled in every way. Mentally. Physically. Financially,” said Kim, who did not want her last name used.

She was a victim of domestic violence.

“I was strangled. I had my nose broken, concussions. Pretty much any type of injury you could think of I had it,” Kim said.

Kim said that it wasn’t until she was pregnant and concerned for more than her own safety that she reached out for help.

She sought help from “My Sister’s House,” a domestic abuse treatment center in Rocky Mount.

“If I’d have stayed in the situation I wouldn’t be here today. There’s no doubt about it,” Kim said.

Kim was lucky.

CBS North Carolina dug into the data.

North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation statistics from 2014 reveal 119 people were killed as a result of domestic violence.

In 2015, there were 99 domestic violence related homicides.

Deborah Holt's daughter Allison was killed by her estranged husband seven years ago. Photo by David Hattman/CBS North Carolina.
Deborah Holt (David Hattman/CBS North Carolina)

Deborah Holt’s daughter, Allison Holt Gaither, was killed by her estranged husband seven years ago.

“As she got in the door, he’d stabbed her in the back and so she was already pretty critically wounded,” said Deborah Holt.

It happened just two days after Gaither filed for a restraining order against him.

Police said Gaither was stabbed 18 times and was discovered by her 5-year-old son.

“He said he couldn’t seem to wake her up, and so, he ran in the house to get band aids to repair her wounds. And he said he couldn’t find enough band aids,” Holt said.

Gaither left behind three young children.

In the wake of her death, her mother has been working with state lawmakers pushing for House Bill 46, known as “Allison’s Law.”

The measure would establish a pilot program in Forsyth County allowing judges to order some domestic violence defendants to wear GPS tracking devices.

Twenty-four other states already use them. Randolph County in North Carolina also has a program in place.

“It’s a very useful tool. It works good for us. We’ve had good results with it,” said Randolph County Sheriff Robert Graves.

A GPS tracking devices used to track domestic violence offenders. Photo by David Hattman/CBS North Carolina.
A GPS tracking devices used to track domestic violence offenders. Photo by David Hattman/CBS North Carolina.

Graves explained they’ve been using the devices since 2008. After being arrested and charged, a magistrate or judge decides if the accused should wear one of the devices.

“It goes on their ankle, just like a bracelet. It monitors their location 24 hours a day, so they’re pretty much tied into an area where they have to be in,” said Deputy Bryant Strayhorn of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

Certain zones are set up detailing where an offender can and can’t be. A schedule of when they’re allowed to be in certain zones, even an approved route, can be included.

The device will alert deputies if that offender isn’t following the rules.

“If this part right here was opened up or someone was to cut through the strap itself and the wires were exposed it would immediately send out an alert,” Strayhorn said.

Allison’s Law, which is backed by Deborah Holt, goes a step further and would alert the victim as well as law enforcement if a defendant gets too close.

Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) is one of the bill’s sponsors.

“This is intended as a tool to help alert the victim that someone is in their area that is dangerous that they know and it helps them prepare for an event,” said Lambeth.

“I’m just convinced if women have or men if they have just a few more minutes warning that can make all of the difference,” Deborah Holt said.

As for Kim, she now has her own place, a job and most importantly – a happy, safe son.

“I have health problems and I have emotional problems still. So I’m not where I want to be but I’m a lot — came a long way from where I was,” Kim said.

Under the current program in Randolph County, if a defendant is found outside of an approved zone they’re arrested.

To offset the cost of the program, defendants are required to pay $7 a day.

If Allison’s Law passes, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety would work out the specifics for implementing the state-wide law.

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