Proposed Ohio law seeks felony charges for non-fatal strangulation cases

U.S. & World

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Three years after a woman was nearly strangled to death by her husband, then stabbed to death months later, her family is asking Ohio lawmakers to pass Monica’s Law.

Ohio Senate Bill 207 would expand the definition of felonious assault to cases where someone causes or attempts to cause physical harm to another person by means of strangulation or suffocation.

Monica Weber Jeter was a mother of five children and married to Andre Jeter, when he first tried to strangle her in January of 2014. He was later convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison for stabbing her 29 times with a kitchen knife in October of that year.

“Andre got a slap on the wrist for committing a violent crime that frequently leads to murder. Monica was not protected and Andre was not held accountable,” Amy Weber, Monica’s sister-in-law testified before the Senate Committee members.

Statistics show a strangulation victim who survives is seven to eight times more likely to be a victim of a homicide.

“I want women to know and family members to know that if you are strangled or if someone in family is strangled by their partner, it is a red flag,” said Weber.

An expert who testified, Ruth Downing with Forensic Healthcare said more training is needed for first responders because non-fatal strangulation also has long-term effects for victims.

“She didn’t have any visible bruising on her neck and the police didn’t instruct her to go to the emergency room to get it checked out,” Weber said.

“I have to prove to a jury the fact that is beyond their common knowledge, that just because you have bruises on the neck, that something else happened inside that neck. And lord knows I don’t want to wait until there is an autopsy,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. She said she has tried hundreds of domestic violence cases and at least one where a violent spouse who strangled his partner was charged with a misdemeanor.

Ohio is one of a handful of states that still consider non-fatal strangulation a misdemeanor. The hearing was the second for the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee on S.B. 207.

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