'Gwens Law' aimed at preventing more domestic abuse homicides in our state

'Gwens Law' aimed at preventing more domestic abuse homicides in our state
Photo provided by Cox family.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 6:48pm

Its law that could save lives, it’s called Gwen’s law, named for the late Gwen Cox, who was killed in an act of domestic violence. In fact, it was her family who helped to make sure Gwen’s legacy lives on in Louisiana’s law books.

It's one of a series of bills aimed at tackling the domestic abuse problem here in Louisiana. This one deals directly with bail, allowing the victim to have a say.

In less than 2 weeks, this family has endured pain they say no one should have to go through.

"I have been through a lot of death but nothing hurts like losing a child," noted Bennie Cox, Gwen’s father.

Gwen Cox was killed by her husband 2 weeks ago and buried by her family one week ago. They say here's a flaw in the system.

“If he had a cooling down period of time which this law allows, he could have said you know I don’t want to take my life," said Cox.

But he did. First, he took the life of his wife too.

"She was my best friend, wonderful mother of 7 year old," said Theresa Pearl Donald, Gwen’s sister.

A life her husband, Michael Salley threatened more than once. The first time, he held his family hostage but ended up letting them go. That’s when Gwen knew it was time to go.

"She finally got up enough courage to leave," said Theresa.

Salley was arrested soon after and a restraining order was issued.

"He said you do know the protective order is just a piece of paper right, she said yeah, he said prepare yourself and those words now will never get out of my mind."

The very judge that signed the order, also signed Salley's bond to be released and he was, just 18 hours later. Then he went to his daughter's daycare, waited outside for Gwen and their little girl and, shot Gwen and then him. Their little girl ran away and was taken in by someone from the daycare.

“I want it to be called Gwen’s law so hopefully she didn't die in vain,” said Gwen’s father. “If it could just save one other woman one other life I know she will be happy about that."

Now the community, our lawmakers and this family have come together to prevent this from happening again.

This bill gives the victim a voice about what happens to her abuse. Gwen's family truly believes things could have turned out differently and Samantha wouldn't be growing up without a mom or a dad.

"Sometimes she makes comments like I don’t know why my daddy would want to kill my momma."

The law provides a way for a victim to have input on whether or not bail is set. The District Attorney will also be able to participate in the process. Gwen’s law also directs the judge to make a danger assessment to see if they need a cool down period.

Even if granted bail, it will also allow the judge to order an electronic mentoring device, so they know where they are at all times.

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