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Family of murder-suicide victim urges support for domestic violence bill

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 24, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Mandy Mayne's father held up her photo for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to see.

"Mandy was a very sweet girl," Kent Mayne told the lawmakers. "Beautiful girl. Beautiful smile."

Mayne and his wife, Shauna, spoke about their daughter's death at the hands of her ex-husband. She was shot 11 times at a Taylorsville bus stop, before he killed himself. There had been calls to their home before as Mandy's ex had threatened her.

They were on Utah's Capitol Hill on Tuesday to testify in support of Senate Bill 117, which changes how police respond to domestic violence calls.

"It could have saved Mandy’s life and we believe it will save lives in the future," said Shauna Mayne.

Sitting with them was Mandy's cousin, Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, who said what her family went through exposed some of the gaps in the system that is trying to protect people from harm.

"There are a lot of people, a lot of victims, a lot of families, that have been suffered and I wanted to see if we could figure out ways that we could do better," Lt. Gov. Henderson said.

SB117 requires all police agencies in Utah to conduct what's called a "lethality assessment" when responding to a domestic violence or family fight call. It requires officers to ask a series of questions about fear of violence, past threats and even if someone has been choked in the past. That will help determine if someone should be referred to a crisis shelter or domestic violence services.

Right now, only half of Utah police agencies conduct such assessments. This would require all of them to do it. The bill also creates a database to track these calls and have it accessible to all law enforcement.

"So when an officer responds to that same type of situation, they can see if the victim or the alleged perpetrator has been involved in similar calls in the past even if charges weren’t filed," said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. "Because right now, if they think it’s the first time, officers tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If they knew it was the third time that week, they’d probably respond differently."

Recently, Utah has experienced a number of murders with ties to domestic violence. In Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Weiler brought up the deaths of eight people in a murder-suicide in Enoch. He told FOX 13 News his bill is getting support from other victims' families.

"Lauren McCluskey, four-and-a-half years ago, those officers didn’t know about the warrants so there wasn’t a synthesis of information," said Sen. Weiler, referencing the murdered University of Utah student. "Gabby Petito’s family has reached out to me, they support this bill."

The bill had broad support from law enforcement and domestic violence victim advocates. Woods Cross interim police chief Adam Osoro said his community has benefited from conducting lethality assessments and he believes it has saved lives.

"We need every tool we can get," said Erin Jemison, the policy director for the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. "The Lethality assessment tool is evidence-based."

The bill passed with a unanimous vote and now goes to the full Senate. After the hearing, Lt. Gov. Henderson hugged her family members.

"No parent aspires to come to the legislature to talk about legislation on behalf of their daughter," Kent Mayne told reporters. "That usually means something bad has happened. Hopefully it means something good will follow."