DENVER — Colorado officials found that at least 70 people died as a result of domestic violence in 2019, up from 43 in 2018, according to a report from the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.
The Colorado attorney general's office released the report Friday.
Of the 70 people who died in domestic incidents in 2019, 39 were considered the primary victim and 27 were the perpetrators. One victim was a child, and 19 children in total were involved in domestic incidents.
“The 2019 data and cases offer several vital lessons, including the toll that these cases take on children,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a news release. “Nineteen children were affected in 2019 by domestic violence, which has direct consequences to their physical and mental health. The losses to these children animate our first recommendation this year, which is to focus resources on the child survivors of these incidents.”
In 2018, 43 people died in domestic incidents and 26 were the primary victims, according to the review board.
The report recommended several prevention measures in the report, including developing policies and resources to support children who are exposed to domestic violence; implementing a lethality assessment program across the state to help first responders identify domestic violence victims who are the highest at risk; and prohibiting domestic violence perpetrators from possessing firearms.
The lone child who died of domestic violence in 2019 was 10-year-old Ty Tesoriero, who was killed by his father in a murder-suicide in Lone Tree.
Tesoriero's mother, Jing Tesoriero, had tried for 15 months to voice her concerns about her son's father, and the murder-suicide happened after a contentious court hearing in which Ty's father learned he was going to lose custody of his son. But after the hearing, a Douglas County judge allowed Ty to spend one more night with his father.
A year after Ty's death, the investigation helped create a state Domestic Violence and Child Welfare Task Group that will focus on changing how the state responds to domestic violence within the child protection system.
The investigative report also identified a “lack of communication between agencies and judicial systems when they are working with the same family” and recommended a dual-track court system be created for families involved in multiple court actions.
Similarly, lawmakers have proposed the creation of a dedicated family court system in Colorado where judges would be better trained in handling domestic violence cases.
The child fatality review team is also recommending a law change to the Colorado’s Children Code. It would define domestic violence and parental alienation as prosecutable forms of abuse and neglect in state statute.