Aisha’s Law draws support and skepticism as legislators work to shield at-risk domestic violence victims

Aisha Fraser’s brutal murder sent shock waves throughout the Shaker Heights community.

Public defenders speak out against Aisha’s Law, bill to reform domestic violence laws

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It has been nine months since Aisha Fraser died at the hands of her ex-husband, a former state lawmaker and judge.

Her brutal murder sent shock waves throughout the Shaker Heights community, where she had been a teacher.

The day she died, Aisha Fraser was dropping off her kids to her ex-husband.

Police say he stabbed her to death.

Slain Woodbury Elementary Teacher Aisha Fraser
Slain Woodbury Elementary Teacher Aisha Fraser (Source: woio)

A bill named Aisha’s Law seeks to reform Ohio’s domestic violence laws, but it may face hurdles to pass.

State Representative Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) believes cases like this could be prevented.

19 News spoke to her over the phone.

“I didn't know her personally, but I do know even she knew, she had a feeling that her life was in danger,” Boyd said.

Aisha’s Law would give risk screenings to domestic violence victims, sending certain cases to high risk teams.

Victims could request emergency protection orders at any time.

“So these are the most lethal cases, these are the cases where someone's life is in jeopardy,” Boyd said.

Ohio Public Defender Timothy Young is against the bill.

We spoke to him from Columbus over Skype.

“It's not going to in any way stop domestic violence, it's not going to deter domestic violence, it's not going to bring any greater relief to anybody,” Young said.

He said the bill violates the constitution, by allowing hearsay evidence in court.

Young is also against it because it extends the death penalty to certain aggravated murder cases where domestic violence was previously involved.

“I think fundamentally the difficulty with the criminal justice system providing answers to domestic violence is the criminal justice system is always has been designed to be reactive,” Young said.

19 News asked Young whether he sees any good in Aisha's Law.

“I think what's good about Aisha's Law is the intent and desire to want to help, to want to do something. I think functionally, my answer is no, I don't see anything functionally good about Aisha's Law,” he said.

Young said he thinks a much bigger investment in social services would help prevent domestic violence in the first place.

Mark Stanton with the Office of the Cuyahoga County Public Defender is also against the bill.

Boyd is passionate about her bipartisan bill. She included input from law enforcement and domestic violence survivors.

She made some changes to the bill this week, deferring to the Ohio Supreme Court when it comes to expanding evidence allowed in court.

“I think people who opposed certain parts before, I think once they see the next amended version they will see all kinds of improvements they were hoping for,” Boyd said.

Boyd said the bill still creates stronger protections for victims, because the current law isn't working.

“It's not going to prevent domestic violence, but it can save the lives of victims and I firmly believe that,” she said.

Boyd stressed this law will not apply to every domestic violence situation, just the ones that have been assessed and could end with murder.

Boyd hopes to have Aisha’s Law passed out of the House of Representatives to the Senate by the anniversary of her death this November.

Lance Mason in court on Tuesday, Aug. 20
Lance Mason in court on Tuesday, Aug. 20 (Source: WOIO)

Lance Mason pleaded guilty to the murder of Aisha Fraser last week.

He is set to be sentenced on Sept. 12.

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