Plaque dedicated to Sharon Garrison
SUMMIT COUNTY – Family and friends of Sharon Garrison gathered Saturday at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near Frisco to dedicate a plaque and tree in memory of the woman who was killed in a domestic dispute three years ago.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Domestic violence affects everyone in our community,” said Regan Wood of Advocates for Victims of Assault. “It impacts not only the victims, but their immediate family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances who are touched by these complex and often confusing relationships. Domestic violence is a silent epidemic that permeates our society and knows no boundaries.”
Garrison’s sisters, her mother and a smattering of nephews and nieces, placed orange and white roses at the base of the plaque. Orange was Garrison’s favorite color. The plaque reads, “This plaque is in memory of Sharon Garrison and all the victims of domestic violence in our community. Peace.”
At her funeral people remembered Garrison as a hospitable, loving, warm and caring person, a hard worker who loved to laugh. She enjoyed the outdoors, participating in camp outings, snowmobiling, motorcycling, horseback riding and fishing.
That was the life she presented in public. Her private life was much different.
Garrison, a longtime resident of the Breckenridge area, was last seen Sept. 27, 2000, driving her Blazer between Idaho Springs and Breckenridge. She and her husband had a long history of domestic problems documented in sheriff’s records.
Chuck Garrison threatened to kill his wife Sharon in April 1998, according to sheriff’s reports. The two were reportedly arguing about their impending divorce settlement, a dispute that started at a bar and continued in the couple’s car. During their exchange, Chuck Garrison allegedly said, “There will be no settlement. I will probably live in a penitentiary the rest of my life, and you will be dead.”
According to a variety of sources, one woman is beaten every nine seconds by an intimate or former partner. Ninety-two percent of domestic violence incidents are committed by men against women. Every year, domestic violence results in almost 100,000 days of hospitalizations, almost 30,000 emergency department visits, and almost 40,000 visits to a physician. In 1996, 30 percent of female murder victims were slain by their husbands or boyfriends. Additionally, a battered woman returns to the relationship an average of seven times before she either leaves for good or is killed.
Sharon had reportedly made a recent decision to leave the marriage, and Wood said that is a turning point in an abusive relationship.
“The most lethal time for a woman in a domestic violence relationship is when she finally makes a decision to leave a relationship,” Wood said. “This is based on the fact that domestic violence is power and control. He feels he has lost control of the victim, and they (the abusers) tend to go off the deep end at that point. They snap and go to extremes to do whatever they can to keep their property from escaping.”
After almost four weeks of fruitless ground and air searches, sheriff’s officers received a tip related to landscaping at the Garrison home and obtained another search warrant.
As law enforcement watched into the late hours of the night Oct. 17, 2000, a heavy equipment operator carefully dug through the dirt, stopping when his shovel blade unearthed a blue tarp. In it, officers later learned, was Sharon Garrison’s dead body.
The District Attorney’s office charged Chuck Garrison with first-degree murder; the jury delivered a guilty verdict for second-degree murder committed in the heat of passion.
According to Chuck Garrison’s testimony, the two were struggling over an ornamental pick-ax when he fell on top of his wife. The pick-ax then became embedded in her skull – testimony District Court Judge Ruckriegle said was inconsistent with the wounds.
Garrison, now 62, likely will die in prison, though he could be eligible for parole in 12 to 17 years.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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