Jessie Balmert – News Herald – COLUMBUS — Andre Jeter spent 11 days in jail for strangling his wife until she was dizzy and unable to call for help. He only stopped when their 12-year-old disrupted the attack and called 911.

But under Ohio law, strangulation is a relatively minor offense — a first-degree misdemeanor. Jeter couldn’t be sent to prison.

Nine months later, Jeter reportedly assaulted Monica Weber Jeter again — stabbing her 28 times and beating her while she slept in their North College Hill home. Weber Jeter spent 32 days in critical condition before she died on Nov. 9, 2014. She was 36 years old and left behind five children.

Her husband was arrested and charged with attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault and domestic violence. He was recently found not competent to stand trial, so hearings were delayed.

But her sisters, Nicole Miller and Amy Weber, can’t help but wonder: What could have happened if someone had thrown the book at Jeter earlier? Would their sister still be alive?

That’s why Rep. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, and Rep. Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus, proposed increasing the penalty for strangulation from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony — a charge that could carry several years in prison and a substantial fine. It’s called Monica’s Law and 38 other states already have versions of it.

At least 10 percent of all domestic violence victims report being strangled but the number could be even higher, said Nancy Neylon, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

“Strangulation is a known indicator of an increased risk of homicide,” Kunze said. “The perpetrators of these crimes need to know that they are not going to keep getting away with their abuse.”

That’s what Miller wants out of this bill and all the advocacy her family has done and a Change.org petition with more than 94,000 signatures: “for my sister’s death not to be in vain.”

The change won’t help Monica, but it might help someone else, she said.

“It’s just hard to imagine that even with a background in seeing these kinds of things, that it would happen in your own family, that you don’t know about it,” said sister Nicole Miller, who works with domestic violence victims. “You would think that you would. That is the whole thing with domestic violence and the battered women’s syndrome is they are so secluded.”

Protection orders for dating violence victims

Another proposal from Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, and Rep. Christie Bryant Kuhns, D-Northside, would allow victims of dating violence to obtain protection orders for victims of domestic violence. Currently, only people married to their abuser or living in the same residence are protected. Only Georgia and Ohio don’t consider dating couples eligible.

“It is a disgrace that here in Ohio, we are the one of those two states who have yet to make that change,” Kuhns said.

Cincinnati Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, also a Democrat, said the problem became even more apparent in February when Larry Tipton fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, Miami University honor student Rebecca Eldemire, in her sleep. Tipton then joined her in bed and shot himself.

Lawmakers say Eldemire wouldn’t have qualified for a protection order, and that needs to change. Not everyone would qualify for protection: only couples that have dated within the past six months with a substantial, ongoing relationship — much like what’s covered under a decade-old Florida law. Domestic court judges would have discretion to decide who should be protected, Sykes said.

Lawmakers hope narrowing the definition of a dating relationship will help the bill pass where is hasn’t before. The proposal, which will be introduced shortly, has bipartisan support, Sykes said.

“We don’t want to wait a second longer. There are women who are struggling with this issue who need the protection. They are ready to leave their partners, but they need the full force and support of the law to be able to do that,” Skyes said.

To access the original article, please click here: Harsher Penalties For Strangling Sought In Ohio