New strangulation law leads to more than 100 arrests around Hampton Roads

Rontral Hunter is accused of punching his girlfriend in the face, then choking her.

Leroy Sessions is accused of grabbing the mother of his child by the neck, slamming her to the ground and choking her until she blacked out.

Tammis Parks: accused of punching, choking and then dragging his girlfriend through their apartment.

Newport News Police arrested these three men in just the last five days.

All are still in jail, charged with a felony. Their cases are the result of a new strangulation law passed last summer.

“With the new law and it now being a felony, we are now able to take these violent domestic offenders off the street,” said Lou Thurston with the Newport News Police Department.

Since August, Newport News officers have made 32 arrests for strangulation.

Across the water on the Southside, Norfolk police arrested 36 with the new law.

In Virginia Beach, the numbers are more than double, with officers arresting 71 people on strangulation charges since July.

In Suffolk, 6 people have been arrested on the charge…in Portsmouth, 2.

The new law is quickly becoming a tool to combat domestic violence.

“Prior to this law, the best we could do was charge them with a misdemeanor simple assault charge. That’s a charge where you will be released on a summons,” said Thurston.

With their attackers avoiding jail, victims were left vulnerable to other attacks and possibly murder.

“In nearly all the domestic homicides, somewhere in the background is strangulation or an attempt at strangulation,” said Thurston.

Now, this new law can help officers be proactive in stopping the worst from happening.

“Put them in jail so the victim is safe and can feel safe,” said Thurston. “Maybe, hopefully, we save lives.”

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