House passes strangulation bill, targeting domestic violence

Cheyenne, Wyo. – After much debate, the Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that makes strangulation of a family member a felony. The bill was the top priority of groups that advocate for victims of domestic violence.

House Floor Leader Tom Lubnau opposed the bill saying it would create a special class of criminals. Lubnau says strangulation is covered in other parts of the law. But supporters of the bill say there are occasions when law enforcement has treated such cases lightly, if a victim did not suffer serious bodily injury.

Laramie Republican Matt Greene says it's a serious matter that needs to be addressed, so that would-be perpetrators think twice before committing the crime. "They are trying to demonstrate the power they have over their loved one," he said. "They are not trying to kill them, although sometimes they do. Law enforcement does not treat it as a heinous crime because the legislature does not treat it as a heinous crime. Once we treat it as a heinous crime, law enforcement will start to go after those domestic violence partners."

Jackson Representative Keith Gingery says a specific statute is important for prosecuting such cases.