by Tanya Branan, Purple Berets
Purple Berets is a womens rights group established in 1991 to advocate for victims of domestic violence with police and the district attorney. They have made a difference in many cases in Sonoma County.
On Jan. 7, Judge Elliot Daum of Santa Rosa handed down a 21-year sentence to Debi Zuver, a domestic violence victim who pled guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of Kim Garloff, Zuvers ex-boyfriend who repeatedly beat, terrorized and threatened to kill her over a two-year period.
In handing down his stunning decision to give Zuver the maximum penalty (11 years for manslaughter plus 10 years for using a gun), Judge Daum ignored the determination by one of the nations foremost experts that Debi Zuver suffered from battered womens syndrome and acted to defend her own life.
Judge Daum also disregarded the fact that only minutes before the shooting, Kim Garloff came into Debis house, locked the door, threw her against the wall and made repeated threats to kill her. Despite compelling testimonies, Judge Daum determined the evidence of battered womens syndrome was not convincing, refused to accept that the victim (Garloff) has precipitated and been the aggressor in the incidents, and determined she was not acting under duress or in defense of her own life.
This sentence is particularly chilling in light of the recent dismissal of all charges against a Petaluma doctor Louis Pelfini, charged with homicide and domestic violence in the smothering death of Janet Pelfini. Louis was Janets husband of more than 30 years. Because of double jeopardy, Louis Pelfini cannot be charged again for criminal behavior in Janets death.
As womens rights activists we are extremely concerned about the message these two cases send to the communityIf you kill your wife youll get away with it and If youre a battered woman you better shut up and take it because the cops wont protect you and if you dare protect yourself, well rip your life away. Purple Berets are currently organizing to overturn Debi Zuvers incredibly unjust sentence.
Letters can be sent to:
Debi Lynn Zuver #W-93142
PO Box 92
Chowchilla, CA 93610-0092