Crime

State’s Attorney Kelly plans to pursue prosecution with or without victim

John K. Houston faced felony charges in connection with the beating of his girlfriend last year.

Those charges were dismissed in January when the victim became uncooperative and evaded a subpoena to come to court to testify against Houston, 36, of Cahokia.

On Saturday, St Clair County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at Houston’s home again.

Houston is now charged with attempted first degree murder, aggravated domestic battery and aggravated unlawful restraint. Prosecutors said Houston strangled his victim and then refused to allow her to leave his house at 2335 Maynor in Cahokia.

This time, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said he’s moving forward.

“In exceptional circumstances, we move forward not just with reluctant victims but outright hostile victims because the defendant is a clear danger to others,” Kelly said. “Cooperating with law enforcement is important not for just the victim in one case but for preventing harm to future possible victims.”

Darlene Jones, executive director for the Violence Prevention Center, said she appreciates Kelly’s willingness to go forward with these prosecutions because these are difficult, dangerous situations.

“If they want to go with it, we are there to support them,” Jones said of domestic violence victims. “If they don’t, that’s their decision. It’s not our job to convince them to go along with the prosecutions. We need to support them.”

Part of that education is dealing with the legal system, Jones said.

Debra Mize, an advocate for domestic violence victims, said police need to treat domestic violence in the same way they treat a homicide.

“With the anticipation that the victim is not going to help,” Mize said.

She recommended police document injuries, videotape conversations with victims and defendants and save 911 tapes when a victim calls for help.

“They will often say that my boyfriend, husband, whatever, beat me or stabbed me or whatever,” Mize said. “They can use that in court.”

But a victim can still fear for her safety, even with an order of protection or a prosecution.

“It very important to understand that the victim learns quickly that their cooperation does not ensure their safety,” Mize said.

Prosecuting abusers can prevent future victims or victimization.

“The more they get by with it the more they will do it,” Jones said. “The behavior won’t just stop.”

Houston’s bail is set at $500,000. He remains in St. Clair County Jail.

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