Op-Ed from the office of Senator Carlos Uresti

December 10, 2010
Mark Langford at 210-932-2568

Legislature gets a second chance to pass Kristy Appleby Protective Order bill

By Sen. Carlos Uresti

The 2009 slaying of Kristy Appleby was a great tragedy, compounded by the haunting possibility that it could have been prevented.

The fatal attack on Kristy exposed a flaw in Texas' protective order statute, and for her sake and for others at risk, that flaw must be corrected.

Before she was shot to death in the parking lot of the Bulverde Creek Animal Hospital where she worked, Kristy had sought a protective order against her killer. But the district attorney's office, citing the law, denied the request because Kristy and her attacker were not involved in a relationship with each other. Appleby had dated the woman's ex-husband.

In the 2009 legislative session, just weeks after Kristy's death, my office worked with police, prosecutors, domestic violence advocates and Kristy's courageous family to craft a bill that would close this loophole in the law.

Moved by Kristy's story, members of the Senate unanimously adopted a memorial resolution for Kristy and adjourned that day in her honor. The bill, allowing third-party protective orders to be obtained by people at risk for domestic violence who are not involved in an intimate relationship with their abuser, sailed through the Senate but, sadly, did not pass in the House.

Soon we will have another chance.

My office pre-filed Senate Bill 116 on Nov. 8, the first day to file legislation for the 82nd Texas Legislature that convenes next month. By filing on the first day, I wanted to send a message — to the people of Texas and my colleagues in the Legislature — that this bill will be a top priority for me.

And once it is enacted, the statute itself will send a message as well: everyone endangered by a broken or dysfunctional relationship will receive the full protection of the law.

Kristy was a vivacious young woman who loved her family and friends, lived life to the fullest and had a special place in her heart for animals. The law failed Kristy on that cold February day in 2009 and denied her a chance to protect her life. For those in similar circumstances, the Legislature must not miss its second chance to pass this bill.