12-1-1997 Joan Hamilton DA Refuses to Prosecute Admitted CrowBar assault by anonymoms


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Firsi"'AFl8islnnl Uip'lrir,l All()rf1f~v                                                                    Uir~(:lnr uf Vidim Sf:rvit'.~
Jail W. Meinecke                      .           joaltll    Mo HamihoJl1l                                         SUZAnn" II. Jam ••••

AS8il'lonl Di~lricl AUorncyfl.                       District Attorney                                             Dun.11i M. MU"Ilhy
 AUlenD E. Andp)".                                                                                                   K•• H••
                                                                                                                         n    nfinll
 J BIT"':. A. Brown                            Kansas Third Judicial District                                         Mi••k 1'1"1,.r
 Naney S. BmmMlo~                                                                                                      Rnll 8urk,.
 Edward M. ColllUO
                             Suite 214 • Shawnee County Courthouse.   Topeka, Kansas 66603.:i922
 Gwynn •• E. Harril               Telephone: (785) 233.8200 Ext. 43:iO • Fax: (785) 291.4909
 f.. B••rnllrd HUM
 u•• C. KIoU,.
 Cynthia J. LoOM«
 l1f'n~ J. K. MWrr
 Kr.nnf':th J. Morton
 KAt.MriM K. Murra,.                                        December I, 1997
 Alexandra T. NRU)'en
 TonyW. Ru~

                      Ms. Claudine Dombrowski
                      PO Box 304
                                   .•.. 67550.
                      Lamed, Kansas _.,
                      Dear Ms. Domj,ro~ski
                      The purposes of this letter are to acknowledge receipt of your letter and to respond to the
                      issues you rai~cd 'within that letter. From your general tone, it appears .as if, you may be
                      involved with son\e'sort of support group for domestic violence victims which, if true,
                                 I    •    ..•                                              .,   •    ••

                      could be a very constructive step.                                   .     I '
                               i I \                                                                ; , \\
                      IcertaInly agree - with you that the cnmInal JustIce system is generally underdeveloped In
                                                                                                 ,      "
                      its handling and broad.based understanding of domestic violence issues and dynamics.
                      Shawnee County, however, has the Kansas model program in that we've accelerated the
                      court hearing process, provide immediate assistance and safetY planning information for
                      victif!ls and p~nishment\ as well as oppOrtunities for behavior inodificati6n for
                      perpetrators. This model program is not perfect, however. But I must tell Yoll>thatmany
                      of the problems'related to it pertain to the parties failing to abide by no contact orders.
                      victims who tak~ the offend~r back and offenders who won't stay away from vi~tims .. ~.
                                      I              \                .                   I                           \
                      After receiving your letter last\veek: I discussed your complaints and observa~ions wi~h
                      the two Assistant District Attom.eys who handled the the' array of cases involving you and,
                      Hal, and I'werit th-rough-our, records Unfortunately, .,' foundnumcrous
                                                         .                     I                  inconsistencies ~
                      between the statements you made' in your letter, the coUll records and the recollcctions of ~
                      the ADAs."      --,. - ; -.'   .     ,                 ,    '.                         -     ."

                      Let me say at thcoutset~ihat I have no doubt whatsoever that you were iii an abusive
                      relationship. that's quite clear. But in fairness to all parties. you;Haloand us . it isn't
                      nearly as clear who initiated many of the conflicts which necessitated police intervention.
                      Wc havc as many policc' rCpOrts'naming_ you as a suspect as we do with Hal as the
                      suspect. There were several instances in which we might have charged hoth 'df you but
                      elected to file against Hal only.                                          "   "
                      The police report re the crowbar incident you cited states that you were the party with the
                      crowbar when police arrived. Neither I, the attorneys nor the police have any objective

                                                                  I                   .

 \                                                       rjU.f.l.i.ee     fD, c/Ill
      means of detennining who did what to whom in the absence of corroborative evidence,
      and we must be able to prove in court the truthfulness of the allegations beyond a
      reasonable doubt. When therc IS evidence suggesting the complaintant may have acted
      proactively in a violent situation as opposed to reacting defensively, it makes our job at
      best difficult and at times Impossible.

      There was also an instance in which we were able to obtain a rare prosecution without
      victim testimony because the victim - you - failed to appear as ordered to testify in court.
      Many Kansas victim advocacy groups mistakenly believe Kansas law allows for domestic
      violence prosecutions when victims fail to appear lor court simply because it's been done
      in a few other states. Unfortunately this is usually not true in Kansas, and most of the
      time we have to dismiss domestic violence cases if the victims fail to appear for court
      only to see that same victim again in a few days, weeks or months.

      The ADAs also remembered that you initiated contact with Halon several occasions
      further weakening - for court purposes - the position that you were truly frightened of
      him. Victim-initiated violation of a no contact order - for whatever reason - never helps
      us Win cases.

      It's been my experience that recovery from any trauma requires honest introspection and
      recognition of the roles each party played. Please understand that I'm not condoning
      anyone's criminal conduct here. Domestic violence IS a crime(s) and perpetrators should
      receive both punishment and an opportunity to change their abusive behavior. Ideally,
      repeat victims should also receive counseling to gain insight into the reasons why they
      rcmain with batterers, why they select batterers as partners and how to avoid making the
      same mistakes over and over again with the goal toward assisting the victim to seek out
      and develop healthy, VIOlence-free relationships. You appear to be headed in that              ,;..
      direction, and all of us here WIshyou the very best of luck.

      Please call me any time if you'd like to discuss this further.





     0ecember        16,   199'l

     Suz.an.'"'le   .Ja;r~s
     Di~ector cf Victim Se~ViLeb
     District Attorney
     Kansas Third Judicial Dist'Lct
     Sha~mee Cou~ty Courthouse, Ste, 214
     Topeka, KS 66603-3922

     Dear Ms. James:

     My name is Jan Doran, and I am writing to you in regards to your
     December 1, 1997, correspondence to Ms. Claudine Dombrowski.

     I am a long-tilllefriend of Claudine's and her daughter, Rikki,     My
     friendship   with Claudine    predates  her relationship    with Mr.
     Richardson.    As her friend, I watched with great concern the
     development of the relationship with Mr. Richardson.       It quiCkly
     became clear to those of us who cared about Claudine that the
     relationship with Mr. Richardson WilS not healtt~ and in fact wa~
     placing her vary life in qrav~ danger.    As her ~riend, I attempted
     t.o help her any way that I could.         This assistance    included
     appearing in court even when Claudine was Imable to do so.            r
     personally   was present   in February    1995, when thp. DistrIct
     Attorney's office was " ...able to obtain a rare prosecution without
     victim t.estimony .,."   (Page 2 of your letter dated December 1,
     1997).   I was ready and willing to testify to my knowledge of the
     course of events that formed the basis of 95CR836.       (A rev lew of
     this file shows that one of the special conditions of Mr. Richard-
     son's bail ~9reement. was no contact with my person and/or home,;

     In February of 1995, Claudine seemed unable to break free from th~
     relat.ionship with Mr. Richardson.    Thl~ inability caused me great
     sadness, and even greater fear.     Fear for Claudine and Rikki.    '
     could only standby and offer SUpport and a safe haven when the
     opportunity arose. It wasn't until February of 1996, that Claudine
     was finally able to escape the cycle of abuse and violence that
     formed the basis of the relationship with Mr. Richardson.    At that
     time, Claudine fled to the Batte.red WOlDen's Shelter where she and
     Ri kki resided for about two weeks. Then Claud ine obtained a small
     apartment I at.ed onl     three blocks from my residence.     On tne
     evening of     rc       1996   1 received at wy residence (3261 S~
     RandOlph, Apt F, phone number (913)267-7823)      " phone call from
                  Suzanne H. James
                  December   16.   1997
                  Page 2

                  Claudine.    Claudi ne was SObbing. nearly    incoherent.   She kept
                  saying "[h]e hurt me. lie hurt me bad."    She was able to convey to
                  me that she was calling    from her residence    at 231 SW Brian'lOod
                  Plaza. Apt C301. phone number (913)266-0890. I immediately went :0
                  Claudine's  residence  where I ~ound her bleeding profusely   from a
                  head wound. Her daughter Rikki appeared unharmed physically.

                  Claudine refused to call the poli~~he              further   refused to aLlow
                  me  to call the police     for her.   /llhy.J'lM'he last   time C1..audinehad
                  called the POlice tOJ; aSBist .•• ce_chn'lnq' a domestic dJtercation     wrUi
                  Mr. Richardson~ both parties      were taken into custody and Rikki was
                  placed in the care uf Mr. Richardson's          first   wife, KathY-4ll"Bi...!tki
                 (r~!.~n~~,!re             of Kathy until    Claudine agreed not to appear
                )in    court   to testify   against   Mr. Richardson.          Who placed th16
                 ~ondition     upon the return of Rikki?        Mr. Richardson.

                   Unable to receive Claudine's         cooperation   in contacting     the POlice,
                    I initiated     a call to the Battered Women's Task Force.          It appeared
                   to me that Claudine neeoed immediate medical attention              for her head
                   wound. But" she would nol agree to go to the hospital                  unless an
                   adV'ocate from the Battered Women' Task f'orr.e (BWTF) would lDeet her
                   at the hospital.         An advocate from the BWTF      agreed to Ineet us at
                   the Emergency Roomat Stormont Vale Hospital.             I also placed a call
                   to a friend of Claudine's         in Wichita, KS. I then perSonally drove
                   Claudine to Stormont Vale Hospital Emergency Roomwhere we were met
'. .  1".\
               (.•. y dIl advocate ot the BWTF. At no tiJlJe were the policl;! of t;be Ci tv
 /       \.
               ~ gf Top~          cont:acted or present af:.--.Claudine's   residenc,!Lof .ZR.SJt
               <; Br.J~           Plaza, .Apt C301 Whi?ce!dJ.!L.inci~ent:.kOO!...21/11ce on .!Jarch
                f Ll.•. --liJ!fj.

                                   Tlle City of Topeka police were contacted           by Stormont
               ~ale       Hospital personnel.      ~    hy Claudine or I. I and the advocdte
                  from the BWTF        were present    when Claudine spoke with the City of
                  Topeka police officer        taking the report ~t Stormont Vale Hospital.
                  I '''as also      present   the entire    tilDe the City of Topeka pol ic""
                  photogra~her took photos of Claudine in the Emergency Room. Tit",
                  only time ! ,,,as not in the presence of Claud ine was when I :OOk
                  RikJti to the bathroom to change her diaper and when Claudine was
                  ta.ltell ,iown to X-ray.     At the advice of medical personnel,         Claudine
                  and lhkki       stayed    in my home that     night   so that     r could Wi'lkt'
                 Claudine up every 2 hours to er,sure that
                 unconSciousness .                                      she did not sl ip ~nL."

               .>Oln your letter   of DeCeJiweI'1. 1997, you state
              ':\'\,policc report which stated    Claudine was ••         you had revi~wed ~
                    crOwbar when police   arrived."      (Pag•• 1        the party with the
                                                                      of your   l~tteI dated
               Suzanne    H _ ~Jrtmes
               December    16, 1997
               Page 3

       December 1, 1997) I find this very confusing ",S the only place thE7,
       -'            a olice arrived to was the E~ergency Ho    of Stormont
       Vale. When I arrive     a     au ne s re    ence a 2 1 SW Briarwood
       Plaza, Apt C30l, I saw no crowbar.      There was no crowbar in my
       vehicle which transported Claudine (and Rikki) to Stormont Vale
       Hospital.   There was certainly no crowbar in the examining room of
       the Eml:!rqency Room of Stormont Vale Hospital when the pol ice
       arrived to take Claudine's statement.    Why was there no crowbar in
       Claudine's apartment, my vehicle, or the Emergency Room at Stormont
    ~ Vale Hospital?    Beca     it w   i th~ assess ion oT Mr. Ri~ardson
     : at his residence at 1717 Shawnee He~g ts Roa,      e      ,.     The
    ) residence he returned to ~fter the incident at 231 SW Briarwood
     \ Plaza, Apt. C301 in the city of Topeka.

       What happened at 231 SW Briarwood Plaza, Apt C301 on March 23,
        1996? The incident began with a series of phone contacts initiateo
       by Hr. Richardson to Claudine at her residence. In the course of
        these phone conversations, Mr. Richardson promised to deliver SOme
       of Claudine' 6 personal property to her residence in the city vf
      -Topeka. He left his residence in Tecumseh, traveled to Claudine's
       apartment within the city of Topeka, engaged in a verbal alterca-
       tion with Claudine, then struck her in tbe bead and lett her lying
        in the parking lot while their infant daughter lay sleeping in the
       apartment upstairs.     He then returned to his residence in 'l'ecumseh
       where.      ca Iled the ~haWD_~ Co@ty      Sberif_f~~ Department.   An
       officer from the Shawnee County Sheriff's Department then arrived
       at Mr. Richardson' s residence in Tecumseh and took Mr. Richardson's
       statement.      Meanwhile,   Claudine crawled up the stairs to her
       apartment and called me at my hOIlle. J arrive<! at ber apartment,
       placed several phone calls to the BWTF, and a phone call to a
       friend in Wichita.         1 then drove Claudine    and Rikki to the
       hospital.    Hospital personnel contacted the Topeka Police Depart-
       ment.   Only then was Claudine's statement given to an officer of
     ( the Topeka Police Department in the Emergency Room of Stormont Vale
     ' Hospital.   1rThere are two different       'police' reports   tor the
       incident on March 23, 1996: Hal's version with the Shawnee County
    / Sherlff's Department, and Claudine's statement (with accompanying
    , photos) taken by the City of Topeka Police Department at Stormont
    " Vale         HospitBl.
          Your letter dated December 1, 1997, further states ''In]either I,
          the attorneys nor the police have any objective means of deterlun-
          ing who did what to whom in the absence of corroborativ •• evidence,
             " (Pages 1-2 of your letter dated December I, 1997)      It would
       Suzanne H. James
       December IG, 1997
       Page 4

       seem to me that Claudine's phone records, my phone records, ::he
       Dllttered Women's Task Farroe Records,        Stormout Va Ie Ilosp~ tal's
       medi(:al records    for that night on Claudine,          and report   and
       photograph5 taken by the City of Topeka Police Department should
       overwhelmingly    contradict   thE' version    of events given by t1r.
       Richardson    to the Shawnee     County    Sheriff   DepaI-t/llentat Jus
       resJdence in Tecumseh.     Namely, the above records should reflect,
         /    1)  Phone records of all calls initiated and reCeived from
                  C laudlne' s residence   (91.3) 266-0890  all  the evening Cot
                  March 23, 1996, should verify that;
           \      al    Claudine never left her residence at 231 SW Br~ar-
            ,           wood Plaza, Apt C301 except to seek medical treat-
          \                      ment;
                  \         b)    Claudine never called the Topeka Police Oepartment
                  I               from her residence within the city l~mits at Tope-
                                  ka; and
              /              c)   Claudine called only me, the Battered Women's TaSK
          /                       Force, and a friend in Wichita;
                             The records of Stormont Vale Hospital should reflect.
                             a,   The time Claudine,    Rikkl and myself arrived at
:y~\                              Stormont Vale Hospital;
,                            b;   The time Stormont Vale Hospital personnel contactec
                                  the City of Topeka Police Department;
                                  The time an officer with the Topeka Police Depart-
                                  ment arrived at the Emergency Room;
                            d}    The time a photographer     from the Topeka Pollee
                                  Department arrived at the Emergency Room;
                                  The time an advocate from the BWTF arrived at tna
                                  Emergency Room;
                             f)   The time Claudine was taken down to X-ray, dnd
                            g)    The time Claudine left the hospital in my core;
                      ] )
                            ihe records of the BWTF should reflect:
                            a)    The time and number of phone calls received !!-om
                                  myself and Claudine;
                            bi    The time an advocate was contacted and d~spat(:hed
                                  to the Emergency Room; and
                            C;    The observations of the a<1voro"tethat avelling.
                            The records of the Topeka       Police Department   should
                            a)    The time the dispatCh received a Call from iIIedlC";
                                  personnel at Stormont Vale Hospital;
                            i:l)  The time the police officer arrived at the Emerger,--
                                  cy Room;
                            " ) The time the police officer reque,;ted a photogra ..
               Suzanne H. JaDle6
               December 15, 1997
               Page 5

                                 pher be dispatched to the Emergency Roo.;
                           d)    'rhe time the police officer took Claudine's state-
                                 ment in an examining roo•• at the Emergency Room;
                           e)    The time the photographer arrived to take pictures
                                 of Claudine.
                           That at the same t1me Mr. R~chardson WdS making his
                           z:eport to an officer with the Shawnee County Sheriff
                           Department, Claudine was already in tbe Emergency Room at
                           Stormont Vale HOspital in the presence of myself, her
                           infant daughter, an advocate from the BWTF,       lBed1cai
                           personnel, and an officer as well as a photographer of
                           the City of Topeka Police Department.

              '. Please, for Rikki's sake, review the records of the incident that
                i took place on March 23, 1996.  Place the Shawnee County Sheriff's
              \ Department     Report' beside the report  from the Topeka    Police
               i Department, the photograpbs taken by the Topeka Police Department,
              I t:he medl.cal ['Qcords of Stormont Vale Hospital, and finally the
                  phone records of Claudine.      Then look at the testimony     Mr.
             ! Richardson and Claudine offered at the close of trial on September
~          '.' 20th, 1997 in front of the Honorable James Buchele in 96D217.     Mr.
~-#1              Richardson' 6 version of events Simply do not stand-up to the
 ~ ~ . i objective, verifiable facts contained in the lVultiple records
;:;t> ~t P'\ !j\ created that night. To put it succinctly, Mr. Richardson lied.
(~ v~\ ~
rl\~,   ,~~
              I am more  than happy to once again make myself available to the
\'~""';Q'"~ District Attorney's
.~                                 office regarding IVy personal knowledge of the
              course of events regarding the evening of March 23, 1996.    Please
              do not hesitate to contact me at (316)524-4277.    On the behalf of
              Claudine and Rikki, I thank you for your attention to this matter.

              Janice A. Voran

              cc:   Claudine    Dombrowski

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