This is not one of those stories that will make anyone feel good, but it is a story everyone should understand.
On March 29th, John Kristofak was arrested after following his estranged wife out of Wal-Mart and pulling a car abruptly in front of hers in order to stop her. Kristofak's bail was set at $250,000. Kristofak had sent messages to his wife Donna such as:
- "Have you ever been hit by a car going 140 not knowing where it's coming from?"
- "You are in danger - protect yourself. No one can help you at this point. You won't know where it is coming from"
- "make your final goodbyes with your children."
Back in October John Kristofak pled guilty on charges of aggravated stalking and battery against his wife, Donna Kristofak. The guilty plea meant that Kristofak would be released for time served, agree to psychological treatment, agree to avoid alcohol, and agree to permanently stay away from Donna permanently.
At his sentencing on October 12, Donna spoke with Judge Adele Grubbs about her fear for her safety when he was released on a short sentence. She explained to the judge that the temporary protective order (restraining order) against her husband did nothing to stop him the night he was arrested for stalking and attacking her.
The transcript between the two shows the fear that Donna had and just how powerless the judicial system is to actually protect an individual.
Judge Adele Grubbs: "If he violates the order in this case, he gets picked up by the probation violation and put in jail immediately."
Donna Kristofak: "Yes, your Honor, I respect that and thank you for that. My fear is that I may not survive that."
Judge Grubbs: "I understand."
Donna Kristofak: "I fear for my life."
Judge Grubbs: "I can’t tell you with 100 percent, I'd be lying to you, and I am sorry you are in that position. But whatever I do, you can go out and you've got that risk, but you will have that (Pause) copy of the protective order, so the minute you get nervous about anything you call the police. It's as close as we can get to 100 percent."
Donna Kristofak: "Thank you, your honor. May I ask, your honor, that it is on the record that I fear for my life?"
Judge Grubbs: "It is on the record."
That record did Donna absolutely no good as her fears came to life.
Police received a call early on the morning on December 22nd at Donna's home. They found her unresponsive, with a single stab wound to the chest. She was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
One of the striking thing in our society is that many people believe danger does not exist. Or that a piece of paper signed by a judge can stop anything. I truly wish that was true because the world would be a far better place. Until that day, I do my best to make sure all the people I care about know how important it is to defend themselves. And I know that any efforts at gun control ultimately disarm those who most need protection.
We don't know if Donna had anything to do with firearms or tried getting one - and it's really not the point. What is the point is that Donna had faith in the system. That somehow it would protect her even though it failed once already. She had her doubts, you can see that from the conversation with the judge, and she ultimately still believed.
A judge once told me that restraining orders work well against people who fear the law... John Kristofak did not fear the law.
I've read Donna's obituary (click here if you wish to read it as well) and I can only say that I wish the best for her family and her two sons Harrison and Zachary. I'm mailing out a contribution to their scholarship fund and I hope that others will do the same.