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Woman murdered after judge denies arrest of man after five felony stalking charges filed

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An Indiana woman is dead because a Superior Judge failed to prevent her estranged ex-husband from doing further damage- and now he is having to explain his legal decision.

Jefferson County Superior Judge Michael Hensley released a statement explaining his decision of denying a motion to have 51-year-old Anthony Russell arrested following five filed felony stalking charges, which resulted in 44-year-old ex-spouse Laura Russell being murdered.

I made what I thought to be the correct legal decision,” Hensley wrote in a statement. Obviously, I made a decision that had the most tragic result possible. “

However, Laura’s family -and the police- think the judge could have saved her.

Police said Anthony Russell had a history of domestic violence, and Laura had a no contact order. She had always called the police when Anthony violated the order.

“Laura did everything right and it’s a tragic situation,” Jefferson County Sheriff John Wallace said.

According to KREM2, Laura was regularly stalked by Anthony, who would wait for her outside of restaurants, her workplace and the school where her daughter attended.

In one instance, he tried to follow her into her gym, where a gym attendant called police after she saw the stalker ex try and gain entry.

“I think she tried all the avenues that she could to stay safe,” Wallace said.

However, on October 7th, Laura was stabbed to death in her home, with Anthony Russell taking his own life after the deed was done.

Judge Hensley released the following statement:

“Out of respect for the family of Laura Russell I have waited until after her funeral before making any comment on her tragic death. I express my deepest condolences to her loved ones. I feel horrible about her death and realize the regret I express and information I provide in this statement do not bring her back.

Still, I feel that her family and the public at large deserve to know what procedurally happened. I did not issue a warrant in this case for the immediate arrest of her estranged husband. My role is not to simply grant all warrants without review. Certain legal standards must be met before I can issue a warrant. The reason I did not issue a warrant in this case is that there was not sufficient probable cause. Without probable cause I do not have the power to issue a warrant. I made what I thought to be the correct legal decision. Obviously, I made a decision that had the most tragic result possible.

I made my decision with full knowledge of the dangers of domestic violence situations. I represented many victims of domestic violence before I was elected Judge, including volunteering as an attorney when victims were unable to pay my fee. I am well aware of the danger in these situations – yet the fact that an elementary school teacher killed his wife and then himself is still hard for me to believe.

Judges make difficult decisions every day. My goal is to make sure I have every piece of evidence the law allows me to consider before making a final decision on a warrant request. When I do not find probable cause on a warrant request, I will now issue an order for a hearing to be held on the same day as the warrant request. I am hopeful the new procedure prevents a similar tragedy in the future.”

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. The number of times we have heard a similar story where one former partner/husband/wife has been stalked and menaced and intimidated by the other, only not to be granted the protection of the police of a court and ending up being murdered. Lessons, the authorities keep saying, will be learnt, but they never are and too many people, usually the woman, are suffering the terrible consequences of a lack of proper action by someone using common sense.

  2. I have my own judge for cases like this, a 9MM Semi-automatic. And I carry in accordance with the law. You cannot depend on law enforcement and the judicial system in this country to protect you or your rights. EVERYTHING is so corrupt and mismanaged in this country.

    • Women who killed their stalkers and brutal ex-significant others end up in jail for at least 15 years. Men who successfully kill their ex-significant other after violating multiple protection orders average 5 years in jail. The system is biased in favor of the male abuser.

  3. The ex was violating his restraining order. What more probable cause did this judge want? He should now be responsible for financially raising any of Laura’s children through college. His decision to have hearings now is too little too late.

  4. I hope the judge feels his guilt for the part he played in this tragedy for the rest of his life. If Laure was his daughter, would he have made the same decision?! The legal system in domestic violence and staling cases is ridiculously inadquate – the moment a person (man or woman) violates a restraining or no contact order, they should be arrested and persecuted. I feel so sorry for this poor woman and her daughter, who will grow up without her mother, knowing one person who didn’t do his job and judged without a common sense and empathy, could have prevented it. Shame on the judge! He should lose his job

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