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Attorney General Frey Releases 2021 Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel Report
April 28, 2021
AUGUSTA - Attorney General Aaron M. Frey released the 13th Biennial Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel Report in a virtual press conference today. Joining the attorney general in speaking at the press conference were Governor Janet Mills, Francine Stark of Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV), and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese, Chief of the Criminal Division of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and chair of the panel. The report features a 20-year retrospective on the progress made in preventing domestic abuse homicides and the challenges which remain.
"As the 13th Biennial report is distributed, we recognize that the pandemic has impacted the focus of state government, however it is critical that Maine prioritize funding for domestic and sexual violence prevention and intervention," said Attorney General Frey. "People who commit domestic and sexual violence have a societal and economic impact on all of us. Continued funding for victims' services must be realized to keep the momentum going forward."
Frey continued, "I am grateful for the work of the panelists, which include individuals who work in my office, and I hope that legislators seriously consider the recommendations in this report as they have in the past."
"For twenty years, the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel has helped lawmakers understand why domestic homicides occur so that we might take every action we can to prevent them. That guidance has shaped meaningful changes in public policy, but more must be done," said Governor Mills. "My administration is committed to working with community members, victim service providers, and criminal justice professionals to prevent domestic violence in our state and improve our response to all victims of crime so that they may find safety, justice, and peace of mind."
"In so many cases family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers were aware of domestic abuse occurring, often providing help, while others felt helpless to do anything. There is nearly always something to be done," said Francine Stark of MCEDV. "A good first step is calling a community-based advocacy organization your local Domestic Violence Resource Center is available 24/7 to talk with you about what is happening and help you think about next steps, resources, and strategies to keep yourself and the person you are worried about safe. These resources are listed in the appendices of the report."
Stark continued, "most importantly, all of us professional responders, community, and family must work together to create systems of accountability that center the humanity of all involved but do not minimize the harm done and potential lethality of those who choose to be abusive and violent against their intimate partners or families."
The biennial report addresses the fatality reviews completed by the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel since 2018. The Panel reviews domestic abuse homicide cases after sentencing or acquittal, and domestic abuse homicide-suicide cases after investigations are complete.
During the period established for this review, the Panel reviewed nineteen cases involving domestic abuse, which occurred from 2014 to 2019. Of the cases, eighteen were classified as domestic abuse homicide cases and one was classified as a suicide preceded by prolonged intimate partner violence. A total of twenty perpetrators in the cases reviewed were responsible for twenty-one victims of domestic abuse homicide, one suicide, and one victim of serious injury who was a bystander.
In the current biennial review period, the following homicides occurred in Maine:
In 2018, nineteen perpetrators committed twenty homicides, nine of which the Department of Public Safety categorized as domestic abuse homicides.
In 2019, nineteen perpetrators committed twenty-two homicides, nine of which were categorized as domestic abuse homicides.
Together, these eighteen domestic abuse homicides accounted for nearly 43% of Maines total homicides during this two-year period.
The Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, which was established by the Maine Legislature in 1997 meets on a monthly basis to review and discuss domestic abuse homicide cases. The Panel Coordinator works with the prosecutor and/or the lead detective to present to the multi-disciplinary Panel detailed data about the homicide, information about the relationship of the parties, and any relevant events leading up to the homicide.
The Panel reviews these cases in order to identify potential trends in domestic abuse and recommend systemic changes that could prevent future deaths from occurring in Maine. The Panel plays a significant role in the prevention and intervention work that occurs in Maine by gathering opinions, analysis, and expertise from a variety of professional disciplines across the state.
Attorney General Frey and Governor Mills encouraged anyone in Maine experiencing domestic abuse to call the statewide hotline at 1-866-834-4357.