Thursday, April 4, 2013

DC Murder Suspect Released From Jail

The Washington Post reports that after a preliminary hearing on April 3, D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin released Diana Lalchan into a halfway house and placed her on GPS monitoring after finding she may have acted in self defense.  Lalchan is accused of killing her husband in their SW Washington condo on March 28.  In addition to releasing Lalchan into a halfway house, Judge Morin also reduced the charges from Second Degree Murder to Voluntary Manslaughter.

During the hearing Lalchan's attorney, Arthur Ago of the Public Defender Service, highlighted a history of abuse by Lalchan's husband.  A defense investigator testified that Lalchan never sought police protection because her husband had political aspirations.

The United States Attorney's Office initially charged Lalchan with Second Degree Murder and indicated they would assess the case for possible First Degree Murder charges.  The government alleges that the evidence tends to indicate Lalchan's husband was shot in the back of the head and that Lalchan was walking towards him at the time she pulled the trigger.

Lalchan's 911 call was played for the court at the hearing.  Lalchan stated that her husband "was getting violent. I shot him. He's on the floor."  Lalchan then requested police assistance.  Lalchan does not allege her husband used force the night of his shooting however she told police prior to firing at her husband that he had lunged at her.  MPD Homicide Detective Robert Cephas, Jr. testified that preliminary results indicate that Lalchan was pointing the gun downward at the time of the shooting, as though he may have been on the floor.

Lalchan and her husband were in the process of separating at the time of the incident.  The case is currently before the grand jury who could elect to indict Lalchan on additional charges, including Second Degree Murder.  The next court date is set for May 10.

Unfortunately, this type of crime is not uncommon in the District of Columbia and throughout the rest of the United States.  As a Washington, DC assault attorney, I see cases like this every day.  Woman of all walks of life are abused by their significant others and it often results in a breaking point, a violent outburst that could have been avoided.

Although the case against Ms. Lalchan is still in its infancy, it appears that this is another unfortunate tale of abuse that resulted in further violence.  Domestic violence statistics are staggering.  It is a silent plague that affects more women than most people even realize.  Without going into too much detail, one absolutely crazy statistic is that domestic violence is the number one cause of injuries to women.  Let me say that again, the number one cause of injuries to women.  More women suffer injuries as a result of domestic violence than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.  Federal, state and local governments are trying to do all they can to address domestic violence but it is an uphill battle as domestic violence goes widely unreported and therefore is difficult to effectively combat. 

Until we as a society figure out how to identify and assist victims of domestic violence, incidents like this one will continue to occur.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana 

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