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Rep. Cheeseman, Families, Victims & Advocates Testify for Stricter Criminal Penalties for Murderers who are also Domestic Abusers

Posted on March 13, 2023


Rep. Cheeseman, Families, Victims & Advocates Testify for Stricter Criminal Penalties for Murderers who are also Domestic Abusers

HARTFORD- State Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R-37) and family of Corina Zukowski, including her mother Heather Rodriguez, gave compelling testimony in favor of a proposal to increase the criminal penalties for domestic abusers. Cheeseman proposed this bill on behalf of Corina Zukowski’s family. Corina was a pregnant mother of three, murdered by her abusive partner.

The legislation, HB-6682, An Act Concerning the Sentence for Murder Committed in the Course of Commission of a Family Violence Crime, would permit a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for those who commit murder during an incidence of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a true scourge in our society. When someone is killed by an abuser, the victim has often suffered years of suffering and pain. The proposed bill would recognize the truly heinous nature of this crime and provide the possibility for a sentence of life without parole by treating this as a special circumstance crime,” said Rep. Cheeseman. “Surely, for the sake of the victims and their families, we should afford the same recognition of the nature of the crime and the commensurate suffering caused as we accord to those families who were harmed by crimes covered by existing law.”

Heather Rodriguez, who testified with Rep. Cheeseman, said, “Unfortunately, “Connecticut courts and lawmakers are more concerned about the rights of committed killers in the rights of victims. Families are required to fight for justice … we have basically been given a life sentence, and we appreciated it. The murderers would also get a life sentence.”

Safe Futures Inc. testified in support of the proposal, “We understand the grief that surviving families who actually have when their loved ones, take it away from them. Domestic violence homicide, particularly intimate, partner, homicide, is an extremely personal crime that is often the combination of years of control and escalating violence. The proposal … is a measure of accountability and survivors you want to see in honor of those who have been taken away from them.”

Additionally, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) testified at the public hearing that they ‘support the survivors calling for this change. Every survivor deserves the right to advocate for the changes that they believe will give them relief and perhaps some level of closure. The proposal before you is a measure of accountability that survivors want to see in honor of those that have been taken from them.’

Domestic violence is a public health crisis that has far-reaching impact on families and communities across the state. Each year, nearly 40,000 survivors seek services from our 18 member organizations, while an average of 14 people are killed by an intimate partner annually. In Connecticut, domestic violence cases account for one-third of all criminal court cases.