Hamner’s anti-stalking bill sails through committee

Caddie Nath
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

In 2010, Leadville wife and teacher Yvonne “Vonnie” Flores was murdered, shot by a man authorities had arrested for stalking her only hours before.

“He never went before a judge,” Flores’s husband Dave Flores said. “He killed her on a Thursday and his court date was on Monday.”

Flores’ stalker, who turned the gun on himself after killing her, was released after only three hours in jail and the restraining order he was released under only required him to remain a minimum of 10 feet away from her.

Now, Summit County state Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) is pushing legislation inspired by Vonnie Flores that would require accused stalkers to see a judge before they are released on bond.

“This measure is a step in securing the utmost protection for those who are victims of stalking in order to prevent an even further tragedy like that of Yvonne Flores,” Hamner stated in a recent release.

The bill, HB1114, drew a support rally on the steps of the state Capitol and approximately two-and-a-half hours of almost entirely supportive testimony at a hearing Thursday, before the House Judiciary Committee passed it unanimously.

Hamner said she expects the bill to do well on the House floor as well, where it might be heard on second reading as early as this week.

The bill would give stalking victims, families and prosecutors an opportunity to give a judge more information about a case before accused stalkers’ bail or restraining order conditions are set.

“Once a stalker gets arrested, it (would be) mandatory they see a judge,” said Fifth Judicial District assistant district attorney Scott Turner, who testified in support of the bill Thursday. “That allows us from the DA’s office as well as the victims to have a voice in front of that judge to argue bond and advise them of the circumstances.”

It’s a measure Flores’ family is convinced would have saved her life.

“If any of these things would have been in place for her, she probably would still be alive,” Dave Flores said. “Stalking is a horrible, horrible thing. The victim’s life is taken away from them. They’re prisoners because they’re afraid. It needs needs to be changed, and we’re hoping we can get this all done.”

Flores’ family and friends, who have formed an organization called Vonnie’s Voice to educate the public about stalking, say, despite the increase in domestic violence laws and awareness in recent years, there still are not enough protections in place for stalking victims.

Domestic violence deals specifically with abuse involved in an intimate relationship, but only about a quarter of stalking victims are or ever were in a relationship with their stalkers, Turner said.

Flores was among the 75 percent of victims for whom the stalker was almost a perfect stranger. The man, who lived nearby, propositioned and followed her for more than 10 years before killing her.

In the last few years of her life, the situation grew worse. The stalker knew when Flores’ husband was away on business and would use those opportunities to harass her. The night before she was killed, Flores had a dream the man was going to hurt her.

“They get this infatuation,” Dave Flores said. “They’re crazy … These laws they’re changing makes it mandatory for them to be in jail and to see a judge, and at that time they’ll make a determination of their mental state.”

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