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Upshur County Assistant DA speaks on prosecuting domestic abuse cases

Southern Arkansas University

The assistant district attorney for Upshur County, Texas, will speak Friday at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia about two difficult topics: strangulation and the documentation of domestic abuse.

Becky Ojeman is a full-time prosecutor of domestic violence cases. She’ll talk about how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and effectively document for criminal cases. She says evidence like in the Ray Rice domestic violence case is uncommon.

“Most assaults are not going to happen in public. It’s not like Ray Rice where you see him on the elevator and there’s a video. I mean that’s rare. We don’t get that kind of stuff,” Ojeman said. “But, if there are relatives, friends or neighbors who either saw or heard the violence, or know about it and saw injuries later, if we have those witnesses names and contact information it makes a world of difference.”

Ojeman’s legal work has made a world of difference in East Texas. In her first year on the job, she had more than 120 convictions in domestic violence cases with only a couple dozen dismissals. Before she arrived, most domestic violence cases were dismissed in the county.

“Because this is all I do, this is what I concentrate on. I had previously worked as a family violence prosecutor in the Houston area. I had special training and came with an arsenal of stuff that I knew how to use,” Ojeman said.

Ojeman will also discuss how to recognize and report strangulation. She says it’s often overlooked and not talked about. But an education effort is underway in Upshur County.

“We’re training our EMS people and our medical personnel at our local ER room so that if someone comes in and says they were choked, they know to start asking certain questions. They know to start looking for certain types of injuries that otherwise they wouldn’t know about,” Ojeman said.

Ojeman’s speaks from 8:30 – 10:45 a.m. Friday at SAU. The events are free and open to the public. SAU’s continuing education office has  more information at 870-235-4006.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.