Bill Would Toughen State’s Domestic Violence Laws

A bill before state lawmakers would make Wisconsin’s domestic violence laws tougher.

The proposed legislation would make some crimes felonies and allow judges to give abusers longer sentences.

The bill was prompted by a December 2009 case in Dane County. Authorities said Tyrone Adair separately killed two mothers and both of their young daughters on the same night and later took his own life.

Police said the homicides were related to domestic violence, noting that Adair had relationships with the two women.

The bill is dubbed the Traja Act for two of the victims, Tracy Judd, 33, and her 23-month-old daughter, Deja. Amber M. Weigel, 25, and Neveah Weigel-Adair, 2, were the other two homicide victims.

Police said Adair had a prior arrest in March 2009 at his home for allegedly abusing Judd.

Under current law, for a repeat batterer to face a felony charge, he or she has to be arrested for a second domestic abuse crime within 72 hours of a previous offense.

Under the new law, anyone convicted of a third domestic violence incident within a 10-year period could become a felon.

And instead of facing days in jail, they could spend up to two years in prison.

“If you’ve been a habitual abuser, you’re not going to get off the hook. Those times in the past are going to count against you,” said Sen. Dale Schultz. “We’re giving the judge power to imprison people if the judge feels that’s necessary.”

Tracy Judd’s sister, Lisa Judd Blanchard, said domestic violence laws need to be tougher.

“Most domestic violence crimes are treated as a misdemeanor,” Blanchard said.

After her sister was killed, Blanchard said she discovered that domestic violence arrests rarely stop abuse.

“After 72 hours, they’re out, doing it again,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard said she can’t say the proposed law would have saved her sister’s life. But she said she believes it will give others a chance to break free from the cycle of abuse.

“I know that I have two beautiful angels pulling for me, looking down on me, and helping us all the way with this,” Blanchard said.