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FORT THOMAS, Ky. - A judge was bound by Kentucky law when she refused to grant Alisha Mathis’ request for a domestic violence order against her estranged husband, an attorney told I-Team investigative reporter Jason Law Wednesday.
Attorney Rick Scott said he understands if people are upset that Judge Lisa Bushelman turned down Mathis' petition in April, if they are thinking it might have prevented Mathis’ husband from shooting her four times Tuesday morning and then killing himself, as police said he did.
But many people don't understand how the law works in these cases, Scott said.
Alisha Mathis pleaded for help in her April 16 filing, writing in long hand that her husband was "verbally abusive … claiming I would never see my dogs again … possibly even following me. I'm in fear for the safety of myself and two dogs … [He] is on medication for mental illness to which I firmly believe he hasn't taken."
Six days later, Bushelman said no, writing on her order: "No allegation of domestic violence."
See Mathis' petition and the judge's order below or at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/748538-alisha-mathis-denied-emergency-protection-order.html
Scott, a family attorney for 15 years, reviewed Mathis’ petition for the I-Team Wednesday. He said the judge followed the law.
"Under the law, from what I've read here, my understanding of the law and what we've discussed, the judge had to dismiss it. She didn't have a choice," Scott said.
Kentucky law defines domestic violence as physical injury, sexual abuse or assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, sexual abuse or assault.
"Just by looking at what we call the face of the document, there is not an act or an allegation of an act of domestic violence within here," Scott said.
"Everything in here while maybe concerning, certainly annoying, even harrassing, this, what she wrote in here, does not meet the qualifications that the law requires."
Read the Kentucky statute defining domestic violence at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/statutes/statute.aspx?id=17461
See the Ohio law and the difference between a restraining order and a civil protection order at http://www.ohiolegalservices.org/public/legal_problem/domestic-violence/domestic-violence/difference-between-restraining-order-and-civil-protection-order/qandact_view
That said, Scott didn’t think a domestic violence order would have made a difference in this case.
"Even if there was something in here and the judge didn't dismiss the case and granted the DVO, at the end of the day, it's a piece of paper,” Scott said. “If somebody is going to do something, and I'm in no way, in any way, shape or form justifying what Mr. Mathis did or is accused of doing, at the end of the day it's a piece of paper.
"If somebody's going to do something, they're going to do something whether there's a piece of paper or not."
The I-Team called Bushelman for comment, but her receptionist said she was not available to take the call.
Police said Dennis Mathis shot his wife four times on her way to work at Personal Touch Home Health Care, 20 North Grand Ave., in Fort Thomas.
According to reports, Dennis Mathis, 32, chased his wife, 31, into the three-story brick office building, shot her in the lobby, then shot himself. He died at the scene and she remains hospitalized.
According to court records, Dennis Mathis filed for divorce April 22.
The couple, married five years, was separated and had fought over money, records show. Alisha Mathis claimed her husband had not paid their bills; Dennis Mathis claimed his wife was trying to drop him from her medical insurance.
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38-time Emmy winner Brendan Keefe was named Best Reporter by the Ohio Associated Press in 2011, and Best Photographer in 2012 and 2013. He serves as Anchor and Chief Investigator for 9 On Your Side.
Jason Law joined 9 On Your Side in January 2013 as a investigative reporter with the I-Team.