Domestic Bonds

A Bridgeport woman has accused a man of abuse before his murder. Prosecutors were unable to revoke his bail.

The tragic death of Marisol Dumeng – who was allegedly killed by a boyfriend on bail for murder and domestic violence – highlights a rarely used state law that allows prosecutors to revoke bail.

But State’s Attorney Joseph Corradino, who oversees the Fairfield County Judicial District, said while Dumeng’s example seems tailor-made for bail revocation, the case is more complicated than it is. doesn’t seem like it.

Corradino said three times that the victim retracted domestic violence allegations against her boyfriend, which made it impossible to revoke bail on the murder charge and send him back to jail.

“We were never going to have evidence to come in and revoke the (murder) bond,” Corradino said.

“Binding motions require proof by clear and compelling evidence that establishes the claim,” Corradino added. “At the second court appearance, she (Dumeng) is already recanting. We had no outside collaboration. That’s the problem.”

Under state law, bail or bail can be revoked for defendants facing 10 years or more in prison — which includes anyone charged with murder — if prosecutors can show they violated the bail conditions or that the accused is a danger to the community.

Mike Lawlor, a criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven, said the law is rarely invoked.

“It’s possible the law was never used,” Lawlor said. “Prosecutors will say it’s not as easy as you think, that we have to build a case and prove he’s a danger.”

On May 28, Dumeng, 30, was found dead at her home in Bridgeport. Glenn Pettway, her boyfriend, was charged with Dumeng’s murder and killed himself days later during a June 2 confrontation with Tennessee police.

At the time of Dumeng’s alleged murder, Pettway was free on $1 million bond for an unrelated murder charge in 2018.

In January, Pettway was charged with two counts of threatening and harassing after Dumeng complained that he threatened to kill her. Pettway was later charged with theft for allegedly stealing a doorbell camera from her home and for breach of the peace, Corradino said. He posted new bonds on these charges.

Meghan Scanlon, president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said domestic abuse is a far bigger and more complex issue than most realize.

“This is such a more widespread problem than people are realizing and it’s truly a public health crisis,” Scanlon said. “We have a hotline that you can call at any time. You don’t have to access resources, but I don’t want anyone to feel alone because they aren’t.

“Smell a Rat”

Corradino said prosecutors had suspicions about Dumeng’s attempts to recant his domestic violence allegations against Pettway.

“I have read the files and I see the retraction,” Corradino said. “I said we would keep him on the domestic violence register and keep the protective orders in place so we could keep an eye on him.”

During a conversation with Bridgeport police about a disputed sale of a car to Pettway – just 12 hours before Dumeng’s death – Corradino said she admitted to being forced by her boyfriend to revisit the domestic violence allegations.

“She retracts and then admits that she is forced to recant,” Corradino said. “It’s 12 hours before she was killed. Nobody has time to answer that. There is no mechanism to provide us with this information.

Yvette Velez, Dumeng’s sister, said she was unaware that her sister retracted one of the domestic violence allegations.

“I didn’t know about any of this,” said Velez, who declined to comment further due to grief over his sister’s recent funeral.

Velez previously told Hearst Connecticut Media that her younger sister “was asking for help” before her death and wanted the police to protect her from Pettway.

“She said to the police, ‘What are you guys waiting for him to come and shoot me and kill me?'” Velez said. “And then hours later, that’s exactly what he did.”

Corradino pointed out that although prosecutors did not try to revoke Pettway’s bail, they wanted to pursue the domestic violence cases despite Dumeng’s recantations.

“We smelled a rat, so we weren’t going to drop the domestic violence cases,” Corradino said.

Scanlon said the dynamics of domestic violence are complicated, and victims often oscillate between upholding allegations and recanting them. She said they don’t always tell the whole story to family members.

“It’s very complicated and lives are forever linked,” Scanlon said.

“That person could be the bread winner,” she continued. “At some level there is a feeling of affection for the offender. It’s not necessarily healthy. But it’s a learned behavior over time; they witness it in other parts of their lives.

Law little used

Lawlor said the bail revocation law was passed in response to concerns about whether the state Constitution, which establishes that all defendants have the right to post bail, also stipulated that bail should not could not be revoked.

“Under the state constitution, everyone is entitled to bail,” Lawlor said.

The solution was a 1990s law that allowed bail to be revoked for defendants facing 10 or more years in prison, Lawlor said.

Prosecutors must file a motion in court and prove to a judge that the defendant violated bail conditions or poses a danger to the community or a member of the community.

In 2014, New Jersey faced a similar question regarding its state Constitution, and voters eventually agreed to change the document so that courts could deny bail for some offenses and revoke it for others. Lawlor said.

“One remedy is to change the state constitution like New Jersey,” Lawlor said.

Corradino said Connecticut’s revocation law is rarely used, in part because most defendants are unable to post bail, and also because it’s difficult to prevail at a bail revocation hearing. .

“I’ve been in this office for 24 years and I remember doing one because we felt the guy was going to run away,” Corradino said. “Bond is favored because (the defendants) are innocent until proven guilty.”

Scanlon said lawyers pushed lawmakers to enact a “holdback” provision that allows courts to keep an offender in jail for 24 or 48 hours before offering bail — a cooling-off period, so to speak.

“It’s not that you want to deny bail, but is it worth having a 24 or 48 hour period that you hold this?” Scanlon said.

[email protected]