Prison or probation? Witnesses key to prosecuting domestic violence cases

Ashland police chief says with the reluctant victim, the witness coming forward helped get a violent offender off the street.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 11:08 PM CST
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ASHLAND, Neb. (WOWT) - Domestic violence cases can be hard to prosecute if the victim refuses to cooperate with the police.

But one repeat offender recently faced justice because someone else came forward.

Tense moments recorded on an officer’s body cam,

Officer yells, “Show me your hands right now, felony stop show me your hands.”

The suspect had a Saunders County warrant for domestic violence and other charges.

Officer says, “You are under arrest.” Suspect, “Why?” “Third-degree assault.”

Taken into custody without incident the suspect has a record of domestic violence so he’s prohibited from having a weapon in his vehicle.

Officer says, “What’s the knife for?” Suspect answers, It’s a f— hunting knife.”

A fearful discovery for a woman who wasn’t the victim but a witness to the suspect’s abuse of a neighbor.

“She begged me not to call the cops, she begged me don’t tell please don’t show anybody this. I don’t want the cops involved; he’ll kill me. Every time it gets worse and worse, and I couldn’t live with myself if I see it coming and didn’t try to stop it,” said the witness.

Convicted for attempted possession of a deadly weapon, child abuse with no injury, and domestic assault, Zack Alley blames meth addiction.

”I’m sorry for the people around me I’ve hurt, I truly am. I didn’t mean for that to happen it’s something that takes over and it’s hard,” said Alley.

“You are a violent person when under the influence of methamphetamine. Currently, as you sit here today, you pose a significant risk to the public,” said Judge Tina Marroquin, Saunders County District Court.

District Judge Tina Marroquin sentences Alley to a year in prison.

Prior to sentencing, the prosecutor told the judge it’s possible this case never would have made it to court if not for a witness coming forward to report domestic violence she saw someone else suffer.

Michelle Libal is a Saunders County Victim Witness Coordinator.

“It helps when the witness comes out and does say something because maybe that’s the opportunity for that victim to get away and we can help them get away this time,” said Libal.

The police chief says with the reluctant victim, the witness coming forward helped get a violent offender off the street.

“Took a ton of guts for her to come forward in this situation, especially a single mother with a family to protect, it took a lot of bravery,” said Chief Joe Baudler, Ashland Police.

Seeing a photo of the victim who didn’t want domestic assault reported, the witness has no regrets that she called the police.

“Knowing someone that violent is steps away from my home it’s scary,” said the witness.

Though possibly losing a friend, she may have saved a life.

Due to time served and good time rules, the domestic violence offender may be out of prison in about six months. However, he’ll then be under supervised release for a year and a half.

NOTE: This is the second of a two-part 6 On Your Side report. Watch Mike McKnight’s first installment here.

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