Proposed laws aimed at protecting stalking victims

Stalking cases are often one of the more difficult criminal cases to prove in court.

That TMs why Lori Russo kept a stalking file after calls came to her house threatening to burn her house down.

The caller talked as if he were watching her.

Cases like this one in Cincinnati, Ohio may not be common in the Rio Grande Valley, but Cameron County's 1st Assistant District Attorney Chuck Mattingly, said the two new proposed stalking bills will protect victims here.

It will strengthen the stalking laws and give us additional information we may be able to use at trial," he said.

Chief among them is the ability for prosecutors to introduce new evidence such as the relationship between the alleged stalker and victim, according to Mattingly.

Whether they are related, how long they have known each other, have they been intimate with one another," he said.

The D.A. TMs office supports the bills before the legislature.

One of them would make it easier for victims to get a protective order.

But despite a potential strengthened law, Mattingly doesn't see the language making it any easier for prosecutors to convict in stalking cases.

Because it doesn't change the burden of proof that we have," he explained. They have to prove a criminal trial case by beyond a reasonable doubt as set forth by the Constitution.

In Russo TMs case, an indictment was handed up against her alleged stalker.

But for every success story, there are victims who are still living in fear.