Oct. 25—The police chief and data analyst who reviewed the events that culminated in the killing of a Janesville woman in Columbia County said criminal justice officials acted appropriately but also suggested ways to improve protocols in cases involving domestic abuse.
Kendra Schiffman, a data analyst for Rock County, and Edgerton Police Chief Robert Kowalski reviewed the case of Jeremy L. Mondy at the request of the Rock County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Mondy is charged in Columbia County Court with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of Kally Elliott of Janesville.
Days before Elliott died Feb. 14, there were domestic violence charges filed in Rock County against Mondy, including strangulation and suffocation and false imprisonment.
Schiffman and Kowalski presented their findings to the coordination council at its meeting Thursday, Oct. 21.
"We took this as a learning experience, not to place blame on anyone (but) to make us a better group and learn more about domestic violence in the Rock County area," Kowalski said.
The review was initiated by Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore shortly after the homicide.
"I question if we did all we could in this incident," Moore said during the council's February meeting.
Further analysis reported previously in The Gazette detailed the case, which started with an allegation of domestic violence committed against Elliott on Feb. 3. Mondy was the subject of a no-contact order during the pretrial phase of that case, barring him from interacting with Elliott.
Less than two weeks later, Mondy was booked into the Columbia County Jail in Portage as a suspect in Elliott's death at a Wisconsin Dells hotel. Mondy told investigators he and Elliott were struggling over a handgun in their hotel room.
Mondy later gave a statement filed in a complaint saying he "purposely pulled the trigger to defend himself," which led to him shooting and killing the victim. Mondy is currently in custody at the Columbia County Jail on a $5 million bond on the homicide charge, and his domestic violence case in Rock County is still open.
Schiffman and Kowalski's work was part of a larger effort to address domestic violence, from the root causes of trauma and other components Schiffman said "feed into the cycle of harm."
She said she hoped the data and analysis will lead to greater awareness of domestic violence and help people in the criminal justice system and the general public take action to prevent future acts of domestic violence.
The report drew from Rock County documents related to the Mondy case and data on the prevalence of domestic and intimate partner violence at the local and national levels. Schiffman said domestic violence is defined as violence inflicted on other family members, while intimate partner violence describes violence specifically between intimate domestic partners.
The report showed Rock County has a high rate of domestic violence per 1,000 people compared to the state of Wisconsin and the entire U.S., Schiffman said. At the same time, the county had far fewer domestic violence-related homicides than the statewide average, seeing 12 homicide deaths from 2010 to 2020. This amounted to only 0.02% to the state's 512 domestic violence-related homicides over the same span of time.
Other key findings included:
* 68.4% of Rock County adult domestic violence homicide victims from 2000-19 were female, compared to 26.3% adult males. Wisconsin's figures in the same time period were 55% adult female victims to 34% adult male victims.
* Minority populations accounted for 40.9% of domestic violence-related homicide victims in the state. Black or African American victims comprised nearly 30% of that portion.
* The number of individuals served by Rock County advocacy organizations more than doubled from 483 adults served in 2017 to 1,120 served in 2018.
* From 2000-19, firearms accounted for 52% of domestic violence homicides.
* In 2019 alone, 26% of the 27 perpetrators in Wisconsin who used a gun in a domestic violence homicide were legally barred from possessing a firearm.
Although Schiffman and Kowalski ultimately found conduct by officials throughout Mondy's case to be in compliance with regulations, the pair presented suggestions for improving justice system protocols. They focused on family and civil courts, where there is no requirement to refer victims to domestic violence advocacy groups as there is in criminal court.
Schiffman and Kowalski recommended implementing "institutionalized connections" to family courts to ensure those sources of information are consistently disseminated.
They also proposed adjusting how the system assesses risk of lethality and recidivism and better management of pretrial risk assessments.
Moore said in an interview he learned new elements of the case that potentially enabled Mondy to have contact with Elliott such a short period after the original assault.
"It's really going to take some perseverance by the entire criminal justice system to make systemic change," he said.
Moore wondered whether GPS monitoring or more frequent visits to the involved parties could have prevented Mondy from being in touch with the victim. He said only one visit occurred between the time Mondy was released from jail and Elliott's death.
"If we had a better assessment as to Mr. Monday's propensity for violence, you know, that could have helped the court in a different decision with respect to either keeping him in jail or monitoring him more closely," Moore said.
The coordinating council's next meeting will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16. The location for the meeting has yet to be determined.