South Carolina moved the wrong direction in a national ranking on criminal domestic violence deaths.
The state was ranked first in the United States in the number of women killed by men, according to a report released this week by the Violence Policy Center in Washington D.C. The ranking was based on 2011 crime data where 61 women were reported killed at the hands of men. The homicide rate among females murdered by males was 2.54 per 100,000 people, the report said.
It is the third time South Carolina has been ranked first number one. Last year, South Carolina ranked second in the annual report.
It is our hope that this report will be a call to action for the leadership of South Carolina and its citizens to recognize the seriousness of the problem in our state and begin to work collaboratively to find real solutions that improve the safety and lives of women in our state, says Colleen Campbell Bozard, Interim Executive Director of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Locally, Rock Hill's only domestic homicide victim in 2011 was Shrece Robinson, 25, who police say was killed when her ex-boyfriend, Carl Eugene White, flew into a fit of rage. He shot her, police say, and then took their common child, which was later found after police issued an Amber Alert.
"Obviously, domestic violence has been an issue in South Carolina for some time," said 16th Circuit Court Solicitor Kevin Brackett. "They're very difficult cases to prosecute."
Domestic cases are some of the toughest for prosecutors, Brackett said, because between the time a charge is filed and the court date, defendants tend to make "overtures" to the victim, apologizing for their behavior and promising never to do it again.
"Next thing you know, it happens again," but is oftentimes more severe, Brackett said, even escalating into fatalities.
To address the problem, the legislature in 2011 approved funding to hire prosecutors dedicated to prosecuting domestic violence cases in court. Before, police officers prosecuted first-offense domestic violence cases and did as much success as hoped, he said.
"Hopefully, 2012 statistic swill show an improving picture," Brackett said.
In some cases, the Violence Policy Center reports authors could not determine the relationship between the killer and the victim, the weapon used or other details such as age and race.
But the report did find the following:
Fifty-six were killed by someone they knew, and 33 were slain by husbands, ex-husbands, common law husbands and boyfriends, the report said.
Four women were killed by strangers.
The report also found:
17 were killed with guns
12 were killed with knives.
Seven were killed by bodily force
Three were killed with a blunt object
Four victims were younger than 18
One was older than 65.
39 were black women
22 were white women.
Herald reporter Jonathan McFadden contributed