- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2011

A D.C. woman who police say was fatally stabbed by her husband this week predicted he would kill her, according to a handwritten petition she filed this summer for a protective order that ultimately was denied in Prince George’s County.

“He is a monster and I know if I continue to be with this man I’m not going to be alive one day he’s going to kill me for shore,” Alecia Wheeler wrote in the July 9 petition she filed in Prince George’s County District Court. “I’ve been afraid to go to the police and tell them. But I have the curage now.”

Ms. Wheeler, 42, sought a protective order against her husband of two years, Claude Kinney, citing years of abuse throughout their several-year relationship.

“I don’t want to be a victim anymore. I have to live for my children,” she wrote.

The temporary protective order, which banned Mr. Kinney from a Capitol Heights home where Ms. Wheeler sometimes stayed with her mother, expired Aug. 11.

Maryland District Court Judge DaNeeka V. Cotton the same day denied a permanent protective order in the case, which would have banned Mr. Kinney from contacting Ms. Wheeler for up to a year. The judge wrote in a court filing that Ms. Wheeler was “unable to meet burden of proof” for a permanent protective order.

Maryland has one of the highest legal standards in the country to obtain permanent protective orders, making it difficult to obtain them in cases in which the victim’s word is pitted against the suspect’s, according to domestic-violence victims’ advocates.

“Sometimes when it’s one person’s word against another, there’s not documentation or evidence. That can make it challenging,” said Michaele Cohen, executive director of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.

What role the denial of the permanent protective order played in actions leading up to Ms. Wheeler’s death is unclear, but the next day she filed for and received another temporary protective order in D.C. Superior Court, which was supposed to ban her husband from her home in the District.

The temporary protective order expired Aug. 29 without a D.C. judge granting a permanent protective order. Ms. Wheeler returned to court to file for another temporary protective order, which was granted Monday. She was dead the next day.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Ms. Wheeler was fatally stabbed in an alley in the 1200 block of Neal Street Northeast, about a block from her home. One of her four children flagged down a police officer after Mr. Kinney pulled up alongside them in the alley, threw Ms. Wheeler against his truck and began stabbing her, court documents state.

“My mommy just got stabbed,” the girl yelled.

Minutes after the attack, police found Mr. Kinney, 48, nearby in his truck. His hands and his truck were smeared with blood, court documents state.

Mr. Kinney appeared Thursday before the D.C. Superior Court and was charged with first-degree murder while armed. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Whether a breakdown in the court system that is supposed to protect domestic-violence victims resulted in Ms. Wheeler not getting a protective order is difficult to determine without knowing all the facts, Ms. Cohen said.

Victims can seek out court advocates, who accompany their clients to court dates and help them get emergency housing in cases where lives may be in danger.

A D.C. Superior Court spokeswoman, while unable to discuss details of Ms. Wheeler’s case because of confidentiality rules, confirmed that at least one person from the courts met with Ms. Wheeler to discuss her case.

In her petitions, Ms. Wheeler said her husband made various threats, including that he would slice her throat and that if she tried to take their three children he would make up lies about her to have her institutionalized.

In the most recent petition, she said Mr. Kinney left a stack of “vile” fliers at her mother’s front door that claimed she would perform sex acts with men.

“This might have been the final straw for her, but judges want to hear that there is a real danger,” Ms. Cohen said. “We all know all of this can mean that. But for a lot of judges, this would not constitute clear and convincing evidence.”

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