Santa Clara County Sees Drop in Domestic Violence Deaths

Seven people died from domestic violence last year in Santa Clara County, according to a new report from the District Attorney’s Office. Five of them were victims and two were perpetrators. All took place in San Jose.

The number represents a decrease from the year prior, when 13 people died in domestic violence-related incidents. It also falls below the 22-year average of about a dozen a year for this county, according to Wednesday’s report.

For the third time in as many years, one incident involved a murder-suicide of a long-married couple. But unlike the cases in 2014 and 2015, last year’s case involved a female perpetrator and male victim.

The incident took place Nov. 3, when authorities say a woman killed her spouse by bashing him repeatedly on the head with a dumbbell. His death went undiscovered for two weeks—a day after the woman was found dead in her car, likely from poisoning herself. The husband’s body was dismembered and frozen in the trunk of her car.

In 2016, five perpetrators killed five victims. Of those five killers, three survived and face murder charges. One, the woman with the dumbbell, committed suicide. Another committed suicide-by-cop.

Source: Santa Clara County DA

Source: Santa Clara County DA

The so-called blue suicide took place March 7 of last year. That evening, the suspect showed up to his estranged wife’s house and confronted her male friend. The wife tried to intervene, reminding her husband that he was subject to a stay-away order from a pending domestic violence case.

But the husband pulled out a knife and attacked the woman’s friend, inflicting wounds that killed the man two weeks later. The husband also assailed his wife, inflicting non-lethal injuries. The suspect, who was armed with a second knife, was shot and killed by police some hours later.

The first domestic violence death of 2016 involved a same-gender couple. On March 3 last year, a 9-1-1 dispatcher got a call from a man reporting that his friend was dead. The man told police that he’d gotten into a fight with the victim and hit him too hard. The victim had significant bruising all over his body, and an autopsy concluded that he died of blunt force trauma.

Cops were called to the couple’s home repeatedly over several years. But because the couple wasn’t open about their relationship, police failed to recognize signs of domestic violence and never referred them to a shelter or intervention.

While the report commends law enforcement for becoming more effective at identifying domestic violence, it says more work needs to be done to recognize signs in same-sex and gender non-conforming relationships.

On Christmas Eve, another perpetrator called 9-1-1 to report his partner’s death. Shortly before 7pm, a man dialed dispatchers to tell them that he had just stabbed and killed his wife. According to the report, the wife was found lying on the kitchen floor with several stab wounds to her chest.

Police say the kitchen was otherwise undisturbed and that it looked as though the woman had been baking. The husband was the subject of a “peaceful contact” criminal protective order because of an open domestic violence case.

One of the cases in 2016 involved a gun. The afternoon of April 30 last year, a man called 9-1-1 to report that he had shot his wife in the face. Police found that the suspect bought the firearm a couple weeks before the incident. He reportedly believed that his wife was cheating on him.

As in past years, the death review stresses the importance of finding ways to prevent domestic violence fatalities. That involves keeping an eye out for important indicators, according to report.

The 2016 cases validated the prevalence of known risk factors, per the review. Those include joblessness or under-employment, prior violence, victim’s fear of the perpetrator, jealous or controlling behavior, weapon use, previous death threats, few friends outside the relationship, stalking and past strangulation.

The review underscores the importance of taking action when one recognizes signs of abuse. In three of the five relationships in which someone was killed, family and friends knew about past violence or controlling behavior by the perpetrator.

“We all have a responsibility to speak up when we see the signs of domestic violence,” Assistant District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson said. “It is a destructive crime that strikes within all our communities regardless of age, money, ethnicity, gender. It’s vital that we identify it before the coroner gets called. Delay can be deadly.”

Last year, local agencies referred 5,101 domestic violence cases to the DA—an uptick of 815 from the year prior. Of those, 55 percent resulted in criminal charges—a decrease from 63 percent the year prior.

In 2017, the county is on pace to surpass the number of deaths last year. Local law enforcement has reported four domestic violence deaths in the past three weeks alone.

Click here to read the report.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. We the people will continue reporting on judges who do not take domestic violence and sexual assault seriously. It is not the same to break into someone’s home to steal his or her mother’s purse than to break into the home to rape his or her mother. Domestic violence is like cancer, it has to be treated at the beginning and seriously, if not, the consequences can be deathly.

    On June 5, 2018 VOTE YES to recall judge Persky and The Santa Clara County White Justice!

    • The intent of “Felony Probation” (which was the sentence for this rich kid) usually focuses on prevention and rehabilitation, not punishment. This is a progressive concept, one that we believes we can reprogram out bad behavior due to bad Skinneristic Conditioning. And in some cases is true. This is a basic progressive concept and Judge Persky was not only following the law, he did it in a consistent fashion to the Progressive Ideology the leaders of this recall movement worship.

      If you ask me, recall all progressive judges like this clown Persky and throw out the concept of felony probation. If the crime committed is so severe as to label it a felony, it is no longer about rehabilitation, its about punishment and deterrence. Men who copulate with inanimate women, are not poorly conditioned, they are irreparably broken. But those that think that follow the Conservative Philosophy. Maybe while you vote to recall Persky, you should become honest with yourself and change your registration. Or just keep on being a hypocrite as well as being ignorantly racist, “The Santa Clara County White Justice” comment did not slide by.

      • Prevention and rehabilitation does not mean giving a pass to rapists since behavior without consequences is likely to repeat. Skinner’s reward and punishment is even helpful when working with individuals with significant neurological conditions to help them stop self injury or injury of others. Adapted behavior is rewarded while maladaptive behavior is punished by taking away favored activities and objects. A longer sentence while receiving psychological treatment for his sexual aggression tendencies would have been a better rehabilitation and preventive measure for Mr. Turner. The fact that this “kid” engaged in such outrageous act at a very young age indicate significant psychological conditions. He was willing to risk everything he had worked for in his young life for “20 minutes of action.” Persky’s decision and probations recommendation did nothing for this young man. This is why he is appealing; he has no awareness of the harm his behavior has caused to Emily Doe, her family, his family, and the community. It is obviously Santa Clara County judges need more training regarding sexual and domestic violence, the psychology of aggressors, and the concept of behavior, prevention, and rehabilitation. I am a social behaviorist myself. Thus, I do not buy your sh!T. Aggressors have to be accountable for their acts, paid their time in jail, and receive rehab while incarcerated. This kid did not steal some food from a grocery store or was found consuming drugs; he sexually assaulted an unconscious person. Thus, I guess you are also in support of Persky giving four days in jail to a man that engaged in watching child porn! He was having his sexual gratification by watching even 18 month old being raped by adult males. What prevention and rehabilitation did he receive out of these four days? How many women, children, and even males have to be raped before these guys receive the judicial and psychological treatment they need? Pornography is a business created by males and for males at the expense of women and children and even males who become sexual slaves of the rich and powerful, human trafficking, free porn including child porn online, BS with this rational! Free porn online should be banned and those interested on it should pay via cable and other membership source. This way the government will have access to the material their are watching. Otherwise, children will continue to be raped and video taped so American males will have their freedom to consume child pornography. If found, they will just receive four days in jail if they get someone like Persky!


        On June 5, 2018 VOTE YES to recall judge Persky.


        • > I am a social behaviorist myself.


          Can you give us some idea what a “social behaviorist” actually knows?

          Anything with the word “social” as a part of its identification basically means “tribal”.

          Sounds to me like you are really a “tribal behaviorist”, and as we have learned about tribalists, their world view is “my tribe good, other tribe bad”.

          Judge Persky belongs to a bad tribe. Is that your point?

          • Think about Bandura’s! Better yet, do research on him. Sorry not Michele here. Psych!

        • Did you read my comments. I think felony probation is a joke and a progressive idea gone wrong. This kids should be put away, he is broken. But you did not read my comment, you just reacted.

      • Sexually assault or rape anyway you want to call it is not a progressive, liberal, or conservative concept, is an outrageous violation to a person’s body and human integrity. If this person is a child or an unconscious person the act is just evil and a demonstration of the seriousness of the mental state of the aggressor. This was not shoplifting, drug use, traffic violation, this was sexually assault of an unconscious woman!

  2. I’m guessing “White Flight” out of “Kalifornia” must be the sole contributing factor in the drop in domestic violence, either that or your typical wife beater has a job now and too busy working after 8 years of “Obama’s New World Order”.

  3. > Think about Bandura’s!

    Think about Bandura’s what?

    If I assign some of my brain cells to this project, is it going to change my life in some meaningful way?

    My brain cells already have many important things to do.

  4. Yes, what is left of your brain cells might be working extremely hard to keep you “thinking,” so Bandura’s theories might be too much for you! You can try!

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