Murder Victim Not Told Suspect Was Out On Bail
he first bullet was fatal, but the gunman squeezed the trigger on his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun six more times. Mary Francis Byron slumped in her seat after work on Monday - dead on her 21st birthday. "She probably never knew what hit her," Norm Mayer, chief of the St. Matthews Police Department, said yesterday. She never even knew, a family member said in an interview, that the alleged gunman - Donavan Harris, who was already charged with kidnapping and raping her at gunpoint less than three weeks ago - had been released on bond from jail.
arris was arrested Nov. 19, charged with holding Byron at gunpoint for more than three hours and forcing her to have sex with him. The arrest slip called Harris her former boyfriend. Harris had been stalking Byron for some time before the rape, Mayer said. Jeffersontown police said they had no record of complaints of stalking. Harris, 24, was charged with rape, kidnapping and sexual abuse. The gun was confiscated. His bond was set at $26,000, and Circuit Judge William McAnutley declined to reduce it.
p to that point, said Helen Kinton, president of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, the system was working perfectly. But then on Dec. 1, Harris' sister , Tonia Landherr, posted his bond. Harris got another gun. And now he is being held for Byron's murder. No one told Byron, her family, the police or even the prosecutors in the case that Harris was out of jail. She never knew she was in danger.
ssistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balliet, who prepared the grand jury case last week, said "it was news to me" that bond had been posted for Donavan Harris. "I was shocked to see Mary Byron's name as the person he shot," Balliet said. "It's so sad.' Kinton said, "The system should flag domestic-violence perpetrators when they come in jail,so they will be aware there's a corresponding victim out there who will know that the minute he gets out, her life is in danger."
herry Currens, executive director of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, has been pushing for notification laws for some time but has gotten only lukewarm support. "The problem is the practicality of it," Currens said. Most domestic-violence perpetrators are held in local jails, so state officials have little control over them." Still, Currens and Kinton think a new state law should require that victims be notified when their assailants make bond. Across Kentucky, just in the past two weeks, four women have been killed in domestic-violence cases. "It clearly could be done and it needs to be done," Currens said.
hen Byron left her job as a hairdresser at J.C. Penney in the mall St. Mathews,
Harris was waiting, police said. As she warmed up her car in the cold night air about 8:45 p.m.,
Harris fired into the car, police said.
The first shot shattered the driver's side window, and Byron's assailant moved even closer. Bullets fired at close range crashed into her side, her shoulder and her neck.
Reprinted from: The Courier Journal May 14, 1996
The VINE Company, based in Louisville, Kentucky, incorporated in 1995 for the purpose of developing and providing automated information services for criminal justice agencies. The company’s mission, "Serving criminal justice through automated technology," began in 1993 with the creation of VINE, Victim Information and Notification Everyday.
After the murder of Mary Byron in Jefferson County, KY, in December of 1993, local officials began searching for a method of notifying crime victims when their attackers were released from jail. They soon found that throughout the United States there was no fast, effective means for providing this type of notification. Based on these findings, Jefferson County set out to create a first-of-its-kind notifications service utilizing state-of-the-art computer technology.
The VINE Company was selected to develop the automated component of the service. The result was Victim Information and Notification Everyday. The VINE system, an advanced computer network, integrated the existing inmate database at the Jefferson County Jail with a centralized telephone call center.
From this breakthrough in technology, The VINE Company pioneered the Call Center approach to tracking inmate data and notifying victims of violent crimes when their attackers are released from custody. Toll-free VINE hotlines connect victims in communities large and small throughout the United States to vital inmate information. The national Call center services more than 450 communities across the United States an Canada.
While expanding nationally, The VINE Company is focused on enhancing current VINE programs and creating new products to more fully serve the criminal justice field. VINE has evolved to include court, charge and bail information, and notification of significant case events. As an optional service, VINE operators are available to provide personal attention to callers who may need additional assistance in checking on an offender or registering for notification
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