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Legal experts explain domestic violence laws

Committing murder is the worst and most serious of domestic violence cases

Posted: Aug. 1, 2018 6:01 PM
Updated: Aug. 1, 2018 6:48 PM

WAAY 31 is looking deeper into Alabama's domestic violence laws after another murder suicide in Limestone County.

Police in Athens say there’s no proof of any domestic violence even though Billy Christopher shot and killed his mother and son and then himself.

Even though committing murder is the worst and most serious of domestic violence cases, there still could have not had been any domestic violence signs leading to it.

"It is not uncommon to have a homicide where there's been no reports of domestic violence that qualified the relationship of no reports," said Attorney Gabrielle Helix.

Madison County assistant district attorney Gabrielle Helix works on hundreds of domestic violence cases a year. She said if someone kills a family member or loved one then it’s automatically domestic violence even if there’s no history of any problems.

"If I love somebody and I know that if I call law enforcement, someone may go to jail. The person who I love, what's going to happen? How am I going to pay the bills?" Helix said.

But Police in Athens told WAAY 31 since there are no past complaints in Christopher's case, officers aren’t looking at this as domestic violence. Christopher also killed himself so charges aren’t important in this case. Huntsville Police public information officer Michael Johnson described what officers look for.

"We can say at the moment in time there was no argument or nothing that contributed to the shooting the second the incident occurred," Lt. Michael Johnson said.

Helix also said it’s hard for victims to come forward.

"Sometimes when we have our officers respond to these escalated events, our officers get hurt. It's one of the top reasons officers are killed in the line of duty," Helix said.

In 2016, in cases of domestic violence that led to murder, 44% of the abusers had already been arrested.

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