Battered Justice - No Protection
"Randy was burning all of her things. I mean, he just throws it all in the yard and sets it on fire."
Sandra and Carl Gilmore say their daughter Veronica married a monster. A monster named Randy Marsh.
"He's hit her in the face. He's hit her in the back of the head," said Sandra Gilmore. "He burnt every stitch of clothing she has except what she was wearing, even her shoes."
Veronica has an 11-year-old son, Michael. The Gilmores say Randy also hits him.
"I never know that I am going to get a phone call that she's hurt really bad or Michael's hurt really bad," said Sandra.
That dreaded phone call came last December.
"The phone rang and it was Veronica," said Sandra. She was crying. She said her and Randy were fighting and he had burned all of her things."
Carl continued, "And he was beating on her and she asked to come pick her up. My wife and I went down there to pick her up."
When the Gilmores arrived, they saw Randy chasing Veronica out in the yard, so the Gilmores took Veronica and Michael into their car. They say Randy was so drunk, he ripped open the car door and smashed it against the fender. After the Gilmores rescued their daughter and grandson, they called the sheriff.
Polk County sheriff's deputies arrested Randy. But the county prosecutor never charged him because Veronica would not cooperate.
"The very next day, she went back to him and dropped all charges," said Carl. "Why, I don't know."
Sandra added, "He lies to her and tells her he's sorry and he loves her. And that he's going to change and blah, blah, blah. And she tries to believe this because she wants a father for her son."
In Polk County, if a domestic violence victim won't testify in court or asks for charges to be dropped, prosecutor John Porter thinks he'll lose the case, so he drops it and the alleged abuser goes free. Porter refused KOMU's request for an on-camera interview. But, off-camera, he complained he doesn't have resources to waste on cases where victims won't cooperate.
Slim resources or not, Mary Beck, an advocate for domestic violence victims, said Porter should prosecute with or without a victim.
"To do otherwise places responsibility upon the victim," she said. "And it is the state's job to prosecute criminals, to hold them accountable. It is not the job of the victim."
Beck says Porter is taking the easy way out because he ignores other tools he can use to prosecute a domestic abuser. Those tools include: 911 calls, police and eyewitness testimony, photos of the scene, and hospital records.
Because Porter ignored those tools, Randy Marsh never spent a day in jail for allegedly abusing his wife and grandson.
"They're condoning it," said Carl. "They're saying, 'Keep on doing what you are doing, we ain't going to bother you,' which is wrong."
And, without the threat of prosecution, the Gilmores say Randy will continue to abuse their daughter and grandson.
The University of Missouri schools of law, medicine and journalism will gather more statewide data next year to show other cracks in the legal system. In addition, they also will highlight counties that aggressively prosecute domestic violence cases.