Number of domestic abuse convictions on the rise in Brazos County

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BRAZOS COUNTY, Tex. (KBTX) - Local prosecutors say the first 20 minutes of a domestic violence investigation is the most crucial if you want to convict an abuser.

Assistant District Attorney Jessica Escue is a part of the Brazos County Domestic Violence Unit. In 2015 her team started approaching domestic violence cases differently.

"We started working with law enforcement, the medical community, and with Brazos County 911 to collect evidence that is critical in these cases," said Escue.

She says the evidence should be collected in the first 20 minutes to ensure the case can be proven in trial. Law enforcement officers now ask detailed questions of the victim. They are also trained to look for other physical signs that may not be clear to the naked eye.

"We weren't asking those typical questions,” said Escue. "Now the officers know to ask those types of questions and if that evidence is available to document it."

The answers to those questions have led the office to a 20% increase since 2013 in the number of people sent to prison for domestic violence.

Across the state, 60% of strangulation domestic violence cases are dismissed. In Brazos County, it is fewer than 10%.

Escue is also working with Texas A&M University Police and their Victim Services Coordinator, Kristen Brunson, who helps provide crucial information to a victim in the first 20 minutes of an investigation.

"Getting them the information at the initial police call provides an opportunity to get it to the victim when they are still cooperative with the investigation,” said Brunson. “It allows them to get that information when they otherwise may not have heard of services in our area."

A change she believes is helping to keep victims and their children safe.