Battered Justice - Prosecutor Problems

1 decade 9 months 2 days ago December 22, 2005 Dec 22, 2005 Thursday, December 22 2005 Thursday, December 22, 2005 10:11:15 PM CST in News

Paula Banks says her ex-husband wanted her dead.

"He's blacked my eyes. He's cracked my ribs. He's tackled me from behind."

Paula and Michael Banks have a two-year-old son, Chase. Things took a nearly-fatal turn on the morning of Jan. 23 when, Paula says, Michael tried to kill her.

"We started arguing. I tried to tell him to calm down, you know. He woke the baby up. He was screaming so loud, so I had Chase," she said. "I went to the phone to call the police and he jerked the phone out of the wall and busted a hole. He broke the phone, and just shattered the phone, so I couldn't call anybody. He told me that he was going to fix me one way or the other, that he was going to go and get his gun and kill me and he was going to take the baby and nobody would ever find him. So he went out to the truck, brought the gun back in and gauged it," Paula continued. "And I shoved Chase over to the side of me to try and protect him as much as I could. While he went out to the truck, I had my cell phone in my pocket in here. And when he went out there to get the gun I called my friend, and she knows that if I call and hang up that there's something seriously wrong. So she called the police for me."

Polk County sheriff's deputies arrived and arrested Michael. Next, Deputy Ron Lovell says he gave prosecutor John Porter a probable cause statement recommending Porter charge Michael with domestic assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. But, Porter ignored the deputy's recommendation because Paula would not testify against Michael.

"I didn't want to get in a courtroom and sit there and look at him," she explained. "That's just torture."

Mary Beck, an advocate for victims of domestic violence, understands why Paula and many victims don't want to take the witness stand.

"We know that when a woman separates from her abuser and takes legal action to get away," Beck said, "that is when she is most at risk for getting murdered."

When Paula said she wouldn't testify, prosecutor Porter dropped the case, although Beck says Porter could have prosecuted Michael without Paula's testimony.

Unlike Porter, Audrain County prosecutor Jason Lamb has a no-drop policy.

"We won't drop or dismiss a domestic violence case simply because the victim wishes us to, or wishes for charges to be dropped."

And, Lamb said, his system works to the victim's benefit.

"Sometimes victims can be relieved if they find out that a prosecutor won't dismiss charges," he said, "because it's someone else besides them making the case go forward."

Lamb said there are other tools to use in court besides a victim's testimony, such as hospital records, police testimony, 911 phone tapes, photos and witnesses. Banks says Michael's abuse hospitalized her  seven times. In the sheriff's report, Michael admitted he threatened to kill Paula. Deputies took pictures of the broken phone and holes in the wall, and confiscated Michael's gun and ammunition. Paula's friend who arrived at the scene said she would have testified.

"As prosecutors, we're seeking justice," said Lamb. "And sometimes we have to work harder for it due to the cycle of violence that affects domestic violence victims. That doesn't mean, though, that you don't stop trying."

Because Porter never prosecuted Michael Banks for domestic assault, Michael can keep his gun permit and fight for custody of son Chase.

"Victims of domestic violence recognize that their husbands and boyfriends can do violence without being held accountable," added Beck. "So it's very scary for them. There is no help for them, no ultimate help for them."

Only a handful of prosecutors in Missouri have no-drop policies. Friday night at 10:00, KOMU News will show you a mother and father who say prosecutor Porter's lack of a no-drop policy is endangering their daughter's life. Is the problem lax enforcement of laws, or lack of funding to enforce the laws?

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – More than 150 people registered to participate in a walk at Stankowski Field Sunday morning to raise awareness... More >>
1 hour ago September 25, 2016 Sep 25, 2016 Sunday, September 25 2016 Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:34:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA- On Saturday, Meals with Mom brought together mothers and their children to make homemade pizza rolls and desert. ... More >>
10 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 7:08:00 PM CDT in News
WARSAW (AP) — A 51-year-old Springfield man already in prison on drug charges has been sentenced to life in prison... More >>
11 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 5:58:00 PM CDT in News
JOPLIN (AP) — A former Joplin police officer has pleaded guilty to a federal charge for offering to help a... More >>
12 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 5:32:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - Fulton Police arrested two siblings Saturday morning at a residence on the 900 block of Lyle Street. ... More >>
12 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 5:20:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A 41-year-old man was accused of beating his significant other with a hammer Friday, according to the Boone... More >>
13 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 4:03:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Old Munichburg Association brought the community out to celebrate German culture during Saturday's Oktoberfest. The... More >>
13 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 3:52:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - MU Children's Hospital held a tailgate for the MU vs. Delaware State football game Saturday. With help... More >>
14 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 3:15:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 25-year-old man was struck and killed after he got out of a vehicle stopped... More >>
14 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 2:50:51 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Tigers' quarterback Drew Lock threw for 402 yards and five touchdowns, including four to wide receiver J’Mon... More >>
15 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 2:22:00 PM CDT in Sports
HAZELWOOD (AP) — St. Louis area police said injuries have been reported after a car hit people waiting for a... More >>
15 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 1:51:48 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - This morning officers confirmed a report of shots fired in the area of Arlene Drive and Gillespie Bridge... More >>
16 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 12:54:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One person was killed when a vehicle plunged into a Kansas City area lake. ... More >>
17 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 12:15:43 PM CDT in News
ROGERSVILLE (AP) — A 13-year-old Missouri boy who's mowing lawns for free for single mothers, senior citizens and the disabled... More >>
18 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 11:30:43 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tried unsuccessfully to buy a Kansas City casino in 1999, but... More >>
18 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 10:50:02 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – Puppies with Purpose, a CHAMP Assistance Dogs, Inc. program gives puppies the opportunity to train to become assistance... More >>
21 hours ago September 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016 Saturday, September 24 2016 Saturday, September 24, 2016 8:35:00 AM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - A 23-year-old man is accused of breaking into the MU Alpha Chi Omega sorority house Thursday. John... More >>
1 day ago September 23, 2016 Sep 23, 2016 Friday, September 23 2016 Friday, September 23, 2016 10:40:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A car and motorcycle collided at the intersection of Brown School Road and Highway 763 Friday evening. ... More >>
1 day ago September 23, 2016 Sep 23, 2016 Friday, September 23 2016 Friday, September 23, 2016 9:53:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
6am 72°
7am 71°
8am 72°
9am 75°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:30a
Open House
6:00a
Hometime
6:30a
Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
5:30a
Paid Program
6:00a
Paid Program
6:30a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

6:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football
6:00p
Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
8:00p
Paid Program
8:30p
Cops Reloaded
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld