- Posted September 17, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
Amend Kentucky Restraining Order and Stalking Laws
On Tuesday August 6th in Ft. Thomas Kentucky, my niece Alisha Waters was shot 5 times by her estranged husband (3 in the abdomen, once in the leg, and once in the neck). He then put the gun to his head and killed himself.
Miraculously she survived, but the bullet to her neck severed her spinal cord, rendering her forever a quadriplegic. DJ Mathis, her soon to be ex-husband (despite being under psychiatric care and having been committed to a mental facility) was able to walk into Triggers gun shop in Florence, Kentucky and purchase a 9 mm. handgun. He passed the background check because he lied on the form about his mental condition.
He parked in an adjacent parking lot out of sight of the lot Alisha always parked in. When he saw her pull up, he followed her inside the building. The police called it an ambush.
Alisha was unaware DJ was even there until she pushed for an elevator. It was then she noticed the gun in his hand. Speaking to directly to him, she said, "DJ...please." At that very moment, the elevator doors opened, and as she bolted inside he began firing. The elevator doors closed and opened again and again on her body while she played dead. She then heard the final shot, as DJ Mathis put the gun to his head and killed himself.
They had been separated for three months, when my niece filed for an Emergency Protection Order, which was granted; however six days later, it was rescinded by Judge Lisa Bushelman because there were (according to the judge) "No signs of domestic abuse". Several actions at the hearing occurred simultaneously which her family believes allowed Judge Bushelman to arrive at her conclusion.
Alishia never considered (nor was informed six days earlier) that she might need an attorney for a restraining order hearing.
While sitting at the hearing across from DJ (who was accompanied by counsel) an officer walked up to her; asked if she was Alisha Waters Mathis; and handed her papers saying "Consider yourself served". Upon scanning them, she discovered they were divorce papers. The purpose of this drama was concocted by DJ’s lawyer to unsettle her psychologically: to that end, it was very effective.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
The Kentucky law is vague and open to interpretation by the states’ judges. Very often, the victim has to prove that they have been physically or sexually abused prior to filing. There is a clause in which the order can be enacted because the victim was in fear of her life. In this case it wasn’t. Even though Alisha had stated in the papers she filed with the court that she was in fear of her safety and that of her two dogs, even though she stated that DJ was mentally ill and she was in fear he had been off his meds.
According to Women’sLaw.org:
"The level of proof to obtain a civil protection order (an EPO or a DVO) is lower than that necessary to convict the abuser of a crime. However, you will still need to show either that the abuser injured you; that he sexually assaulted you, or that he threatened to do so. You should explain to the judge that you are fearful of your abuser and why...In Kentucky, protective orders do not cover victims of stalking and harassment” (http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.phpid=10049&state_code=KY&open_id=11260)
One of the things we are trying as a family to accomplish is to amend the law surrounding the granting of the EPO/DVO, as well as the law regarding stalking and harassment.
None of these consider cyber-stalking (i.e. text, email, and social media).
Within a 2 week period Alisha had received 186 texts from her separated husband.
He used psychological abuse, threats of violence, and threats of harm in his texts and calls.
He called telling her that her most beloved dog, Howie (whom he had refused her to visit) was dying from cancer. Alisha's parents we're unnerved and called the dog’s vet only to discover that Howie had not been seen since April (this occurred in August).
It was not until after her shooting did we discover the call occurred on the very day he had bought the 9 mm.
We as a family are asking help from the public to amend these Kentucky laws to include psychological torture and cyber-stalking via email, text, or social media as methods of abuse worthy of a restraining order. We wish to bring Kentucky into the 21st century and force them to recognize that one can be abused by technology.
Had Alisha been granted the DVO based on psychological abuse through texts and phone calls due to cyber-stalking, DJ would have been denied the purchase of the gun that changed her life forever.
Alisha is currently in a rehab facility at Specialty Select Hospital for Respiratory therapy and will be moved to Shepherd Hospital in Atlanta Tuesday, October 8 for patients with spinal cord damage. She had been in SICU for more than a month at the University of Cincinnati Trauma center. She can feel nothing below her neck.
We have been interviewed several times on the local media, received a positive Editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as an opinion piece by Professor Margaret Drew in the same paper.
You can find many of these news reports by using Google and searching for "Alisha Waters". Her story is at the top.
Here is one such heartbreaking example:
There is also an interview with Alisha herself that was conducted this evening (Aug 19th) on WLWT Channel Five, Cincinnati