(WTNH) – Should a murder at the hands of a domestic abuser be considered “murder with special circumstances?” The designation would increase the penalty for those convicted of killing someone during a domestic violence incident.
The family of Corina Zukowski is fighting to get a new domestic violence law passed in her honor. The young mother was one of fourteen individuals who were killed by an intimate partner in 2018.
25-year-old Corina Zukowski was trying desperately to escape her abuser. Her mom, Heather Rodriguez, recalls the fear.
“She didn’t tell us. She didn’t want to bother us. She kept saying she was going home and he made sure it didn’t happen,” Rodriguez said.
The pregnant mother of three had locked her abusive boyfriend of nine years out of her motel room December of 2018. He was later given a key to the room by a motel operator. It was a decision that unlocked a horrible chain of events.
“You know, you took care of her for 25 years. You watched her give birth. You have, you know, three beautiful grandchildren from her. She was pregnant when she was killed and she’s gone,” added Rodriguez.
Against the family’s wishes, state prosecutors made a plea deal for 40 years in prison for Corina’s killer. Rodriguez said it was a lenient sentence for the brutal murder of her firstborn child.
“It just keeps happening over and over and over. As I said, you have no voice,” Rodriguez said.
Corina’s mother reached out to lawmakers to increase the penalty for domestic abusers. Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R) was the only one who listened.
“We know what a toll the pandemic has taken,” Cheeseman said.
Cheeseman filed a bill to permit a life sentence without the possibility of parole for those who commit murder during an incidence of domestic violence.
“I think this sends a message. You do not do this full stop, but if you do, you will see the ultimate sanction that the state of Connecticut can present to you,” said Rep. Cheeseman (R).
Current state law defines “murder with special circumstances” as incidents of the following types of murder.
- law enforcement officer
- murder for hire
- murder in the commission of a felony
- murder committed while serving life in prison
- murder by a kidnapper
- murder while in the commission of sexual assault 1st degree
- murder of two, or more people at the same time
- murder of a person under 16 yrs
It is a lengthy list Rodriquez wants domestic violence added to.
“It’ll help a lot of people and make maybe a think stop and think. You know, if I do this, I’m getting life in jail,” Rodriguez said.
Corina’s boys are now nine, eight and five years old. They will never know their unborn sibling or the warm embrace of their loving mom.
“Corina was the life of our family,” Rodriquez said. “I just want to change it for some other family, so they don’t have to deal with this.”
The proposed bill is before the Judiciary Committee.
If you or someone you know needs help because of domestic violence call (888) 774-2900, or visit the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website here.