Domestic violence cases will be tougher to prosecute with new state criminal justice laws, officials say

Orange County Safe Homes Executive Director Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, left accepts a proclamation declaring Domestic Violence Awareness Month, from county officials

GOSHEN – The new year will bring with it “some major challenges” for police and prosecutors with state-approved changes to the criminal justice laws including bail reform and quicker presentation of evidence, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus told a ceremony in front of the county government center in Goshen to mark October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“I am very troubled with what the future holds,” he said, noting it can take long periods of time to prove a domestic violence case.

“I am very concerned what’s going to happen on January 1st. I could sit up here and sugarcoat it, but I am on the phone every day with the sheriff and DA; what are going to do with the jail, what are we going to do with the victims,” Neuhaus said.

All of the area’s state legislators pledged their support to stamping out domestic violence through awareness and education.

The annual program includes the Clothesline Project, a line of t-shirts with the names of those who have been murdered, injured or abused by their domestic partner, that is hanging at the government center as a remember of those who have been victimized.

Safe Homes of Orange County coordinates the annual event. Executive Director Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier noted that since 2004, 28 women have been killed at their hands of their domestic partners. She read all of their names out loud and included Petra Mohammad of Highland Falls, who has been missing since 2006 and is presumed dead.

“I am tired of adding names to the list. This is one of society’s major problems. It hides right in plain sight. It is an everyday occurrence that most of us tune out, oblivious to the physical, financial, emotional and psychological pull it exacts, when in fact, the cost is very high,” Kostyal-Larrier said.

Neuhaus noted that there is a current case under investigation as police search for George Grogan, 59, of the Town of Poughkeepsie as a potential suspect in connection with the death of his wife, Audrey, 52, whose body was found near the Bear Mountain Bridge. Grogan had told his son last weekend that he had killed his estranged wife.

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