North Texas

Burleson Cracking Down on Domestic Violence By Targeting Strangulation Cases

Burleson is trying something no other city in the country is doing to stop domestic violence. The city has a new tool to spot signs of strangulation.

Statistics show that abuse victims who are strangled are 700 times more likely to end up dead at the hands of their abuser.

NBC 5 sat down with two women who know first-hand what a difference the new Burleson program could make.

Playtime at Laurie Wright's house comes with painful reminders.

"Add Mommy's name," said 7-year-old Aliyah, while painting with her grandmother.

The generation in between grandmother and granddaughter is a gaping hole.

"Her life was taken tragically," Wright said.

Twenty-six-year-old Alexandria Jade Wright was strangled to death in room 212 of the Burleson Days Inn. A man who claimed to be her friend is now charged with killing her.

"I know that justice will be served," Wright said.

It's one of two strangling deaths in Burleson last year that drew attention to a surprisingly common act of violence.

"We're not going to tolerate it," said Ken Shetter, president of One Safe Place in Fort Worth, where 60 percent of domestic violence clients report being choked.

Shetter also happens to be mayor of Burleson. This week, the city council decided on a new ordinance that requires emergency medical response to any report of a choking.

"A first responder can communicate to the victim and to the abuser, who's typically on the scene, too," Shetter said. "We're gonna call EMS, because it's the law, we have to. We don't have a choice. So it takes the monkey off the back of the victim. It's not their choice to call."

It sounds like common sense, but it doesn't always happen.

Kristine, a woman who was repeatedly choked by an ex, asked us not to show her face since her abuser is still on the streets.

"He would put his belt around my neck and drag me around the house," Kristine said.

When she finally called police, no paramedics came to check her, and the signs of injury were too recent for the untrained eye.

"I had no idea how much damage it was going to do to me," Kristine said. "My thyroid has been crushed. I do have early signs of dementia from loss of consciousness."

Kristine believes that having a medical professional there night one will help investigators build a better case and draw victims out of a desperate cycle.

"This could help stop something way before it gets worse," Kristine said.

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