Domestic violence is still a problem

By Abby Morris-Frye
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles on domestic violence.
  By the time you finish reading this sentence, another woman will have been battered at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.
  In the United States, a woman is assaulted or otherwise abused by a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, husband, ex-husband, intimate partner or relative every seven seconds, according to information from the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
  Many people would like to think that domestic violence is an isolated problem that only occurs in large urban areas but the truth is that domestic violence is a pervasive problem that occurs in every state and every city.
  In Tennessee alone in 2003, more than 60 murders were linked to domestic violence along with 408 kidnappings, and 1,205 sexual assaults, according to a crime statistics report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. In addition, 31,056 assaults, 6,695 aggravated assaults, 6,414 cases of intimidation and 360 cases of stalking all linked to domestic violence were also reported to the TBI by local jurisdictions.
  Carter County and Elizabethton have not been able to escape the horror that is domestic violence. Local law enforcement officers are frequently dispatched on calls of domestic disturbances and domestic assaults.
  On Tuesday night of this week, a local man was charged with aggravated assault under the domestic violence statute after his ex-girlfriend told police that he had attempted to smother her with a pillow.
  The victim advised officers who responded that her ex-boyfriend -- Columbus Hinson, Jr., 52, 2925 Chestnut Lane, Apt. 20 -- had been consuming alcohol at the residence and that they became involved in an altercation after she attempted to take a beer away from him because she knew that he became violent when he was intoxicated. The victim reported that Hinson then tried to smother her with a pillow and struck her in the face several times. She stated that at one point, she nearly passed out from lack of oxygen.
  The victim was finally able to make it to a neighboring apartment to ask the resident there to call police. She reported that Hinson then assaulted her again in the presence of the neighbor, who confirmed her statement with police.
  In September 2003, a Butler man was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder after police say he shot his wife in the face with a handgun while the couple's children were in the home.
  According to police, Lester Reece, 36, 474 Whaleytown Rd., shot his wife, Kathy Jean Lyons Reece, 31, in the mouth in the early morning hours on Sept. 7, 2003. Lester Reece is still awaiting trial on those charges.
  Both the girlfriend of Columbus Hinson, Jr., and Kathy Reece were lucky in that they both survived the attacks perpetrated against them. Earlier this year, a woman in Carter County was not so lucky.
  In April of this year, a young woman was shot and killed at a local fast food restaurant and the man who was later arrested in connection with her murder was the woman's estranged boyfriend, according to police.
  On the morning of April 12, 26-year-old Carla Scott was shot and killed as she sat in her vehicle in the parking lot of McDonald's. Scott's two young children -- ages 1 and 3-years-old -- were in the vehicle when their mother was shot in front of them. According to police, the children were not injured in the incident.
  Steven Allen Jones, 34, of 103 Carl Smith Rd., was arrested and charged a few days later with first degree murder in the death of Scott. He is currently awaiting trial on the charge.
  According to Paul Gabinet, director of the Shepherd's Inn, a domestic violence and temporary homeless shelter, the problem of domestic violence is growing. "The occupancy rate this year (at the shelter) is 75 percent more than it was last year," he said, adding that, since December, there have only been six nights when the shelter was empty.