Kaity's law is helping those in domesitc violence relationshipsPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, but a Valley teen's influence is now protecting others who find themselves in potentially deadly situations.
“As our relationship progressed, he started getting really jealous,” Clarissa Febre said. "And one day back in August, it all just exploded."
It's been almost two years, but Febre remembers the terrifying events she faced at the hands of her then boyfriend, Alex Lamanilao.
“I told him I was going to leave and when I gathered my things to go, he came at me with a stick and he started hitting everything, including me,” Febre said.
It was a 24-hour nightmare during which she was threatened with a gun and a sword. Febre eventually escaped and got help from Peoria Police Officer Justin Koerner.
“He asked me if we lived together and I said, 'No, we didn't live together,'” Febre recalled. “He asked, ‘How long have you been involved in the relationship?’ And I explained to him and he said, ‘OK, we can do this under Kaity's law.’”
It's this Arizona law that gives couples who are only dating the same protection as those who are married, living with someone, have a child together or are blood related.
"It can be frustrating for us,” Koerner said. “We can go to the situation and see clearly that this individual is afraid to help us, afraid to make a statement. But since Kaity's law has been enacted, we can go ahead and make an arrest or we can guarantee that the parties will be separated.”
Bobbi Sudberry fought hard to get Kaity's Law passed. Sudberry's 17-year-old daughter, Kaity, was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend as she walked home from school back in 2008.
“This would have helped us a lot in Kaity's case because she was actually assaulted on three different occasions,” Sudberry said. “It wasn't until the third time that he was going to be charged with assault when Kaity could name a witness.”
When Sudberry hears about victims like Febre being able to stand up to their abusers because Officer Koerner was up to speed on Kaity’s law, she knows her daughter is still protecting others.
“What I did for Clarissa is no different then what any other officer on my squad would have done for anybody,” Koerner said.
“I wouldn't be standing here and I thank him [Officer Koerner] for my safety and for doing the job that he does,” Febre said.
“She [Kaity] would give me a hug and say, 'We did it. We're doing it,’" Sudberry said.”And we are.”
Lamanilao remained at large for more than a year after fleeing the country. He was taken back into custody last August and is expected to be sentenced next month.
For more information on Kaity’s Law go to www.kaitysway.org
Kaity’s Way is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to children of all ages subjected to or involved in violent relationships.
Their annual Celebrities/Heroes Step Against Teen Dating Violence III will take place on July 28, 2012. Koerner will be one of the hero dance competitors.