Domestic-violence murders spike
There have been about as many abuse-related deaths this month as there had been all year
Federal law enforcement officials vowed yesterday to aggressively prosecute domestic abusers after five women were killed this month -- all of them apparent victims of domestic violence.
Yesterday, a federal grand jury indicted two men convicted of domestic violence-related crimes who were found in possession of firearms. It is illegal for individuals convicted of domestic abuse or enjoined by restraining orders to own or possess firearms.
Broyson Gonsalves was charged with carrying a pistol July 10 while under a court order to stay away from a domestic partner. Christopher Yasay was charged with possessing a rifle and ammunition, being a drug user in possession of a firearm, and possession of five grams or more of methamphetamine.
According to Domestic Violence Clearinghouse statistics through June, there were four or five domestic violence-related deaths statewide -- about as many as there were this month.
DeLana Carter, criminal court outreach program supervisor at the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse, said they do not know the reason for the spike, but called it a community problem that requires that everyone, not just law enforcement and prosecutors, get involved.
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo urged the community to notify police when they witness domestic violence, particularly where firearms might be involved. "The chances for violence increases where guns or drugs are involved," Kubo said.
The domestic violence-related incidents over the weekend are tragic examples of the growing number of victims who are in abusive or violent relationships, he said.
Delphine Haina died after she was either ejected or jumped from a moving car driven by her boyfriend near Punaluu on Friday. Ronante Aquino was indicted this week with repeatedly stabbing his girlfriend, Zenaida Dumaslan, to death in her Pearl City apartment on Saturday.
On the Big Island last week, Vernon Costa is accused of ramming a car in which his ex-girlfriend was riding, causing a crash that killed two women.
And three weeks ago, Joel Norva fatally shot his ex-wife and critically wounded her daughter before shooting himself in the head, police said.
"This type of violent crime has law enforcement all over our state concerned about the safety of our families and the welfare of our communities," Kubo said.
"And that is why we must remain tough on domestic abusers while, at the same time, reaching out to their victims with awareness programs, group support and adequate shelters to protect them from their abusers."
Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, federal attorneys have prosecuted all types of gun crimes, including those committed by defendants who are domestic abusers. Since 2002 there have been 40 domestic violence-related prosecutions in federal court. Violators face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.