Thursday marks the third anniversary of the brutal killing of young mother Danielle Keller at the hands of her estranged boyfriend, a crime that shocked Novato.
Had you forgotten? Have we made progress to curtail domestic violence in our community? You can share your thoughts by adding a comment below, but the Center for Domestic Peace says the answer is yes.
Kate Kain, deputy director of the San Rafael center — which used to be called Marin Abused Women's Services — said Keller's death corresponded with an increased awareness of domestic violence in Marin and more participation from the public in seeking ways to promote harmony in the household.
"Her death was a turning point for us," Kain said. "What I have seen is the interest in a coordinated community response has really grown, and I think part of that was the way her homicide was linked so strongly to domestic violence. All the law enforcement officers and prosecutors were very effective in getting out the message."
On July 12, 2009, James Raphael Mitchell, an heir to the Mitchell family pornography empire, was charged with killing Keller with a softball bat at her Diablo Court home, just across the street from . Mitchell then kidnapped their daughter — on her first birthday — and fled in his car until being arrested later that night outside of Sacramento. The baby was not hurt.
After two days of jury deliberation, July 12, 2011, of first-degree murder, kidnapping stalking, domestic violence and child endangerment in Marin Superior Court. Deputy District Attorney Charles Cacciatore said the verdict reflected “the seriousness with which we treat domestic violence cases here in Marin County.”
a month later to 35 years to life in prison. He told the court that was victimized of the media's fascination with his family's porn business. He had testified that he fought off two men who killed Keller and tried to take Samantha from the home as he arrived to celebrate this daughter's birthday.
(Keller's mother, Claudia Stevens, appears in the attached video with Dr. Joan Hangarter. It was taped shortly after the killing.)
The Center for Domestic Peace works to "transform our world so domestic violence no longer exists, creating greater safety, justice and equality," according to its website.
Kain said a 2007 Novato high-profile shooting also had a positive residual effects on the campaign to curb domestic violence. Abelina Magana told her husband, Abraham, that she wanted a divorce, and he turned two handguns on his wife before turning one of them on himself. Abelina survived more than a dozen gunshot wounds, including to the head, but survived. Abraham didn't.
After leaving Novato to concentrate on her recovery from wounds that left her a quadriplegic, Abelina returned in 2009 to be with her three children and is as of this summer.
"That was a very sad incident, but the increased awareness has done some good," Kain said.
Keller's case led to a change in policy with periodic meetings of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, a gathering of people involved in the criminal justice and law enforcement systems.
"The case was a motivating factor to increase participation, so we changed it to the Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence Network and opened it up to the public," Kain said. "The idea was to engage anyone who comes in contact with a victim, an offender or their children so that we all have a common and coordinated response when we hear about these crimes."
Kain said attendance since has gone from an average of 10 people at the meetings to 30 or 40.
"We're getting friends, neighbors, ministers, employers, therapists ... really the whole community," she said. "It's wonderful to have so many people involved."
The next meeting of the group is 1 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Marin County Health & Wellness Campus.