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Domestic violence bill moves forward with spotlight on Gabby Petito case

Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) introduces Aisha's Law in 2019.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) introduces Aisha's Law in 2019.

The Ohio House approved, with a near unanimous vote, a bill to help protect victims of domestic violence from the moment police are called to the scene.

Supporters say the sudden urgency behind the bill is likely because of the attention on Gabby Petito, who is suspected to have been killed by her boyfriend and left in a national park after a history of domestic violence incidents.

House Bill 3 would make strangulation a domestic violence crime and require police officers to perform a lethality assessment during each domestic violence run.

That assessment would determine how deadly the situation might be for the victim. Results of that assessment could trigger an automatic emergency protection order and connect the victim with a domestic violence program.

The bill is named "Aisha's Law" after Aisha Fraser, who was murdered in 2018 by her ex-husband and former state legislator Lance Mason.

Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights), the sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), says the lethality assessment can be crucial in preventing domestic violence from escalating.

"It would've meant law enforcement would've been trained to identify those factors and react differently than they did and that might've saved her life," says Boyd.

Boyd introduced the same bill in 2019 during the last General Assembly session. While that bill also passed out of the Ohio House it stalled in the Ohio Senate.

Boyd says Petito's murder has put a spotlight on the bill. Police in Utah were called to the scene of an altercation between Petito and her boyfriend shortly before she went missing.

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