Bill to classify strangulation a felony: 'Strangulation is the warning shot'

CLINTON, SC (WIS) - A 19-year-old was strangled to death by her boyfriend, with a USB cord in 2013. While he serves a life sentence, Emily Anna Asbill's mother Emily Joy doesn't want to stop there. Joy wants to save other victims before it's too late, so she hopes a bill on strangulation will become law.

"Oh, my goodness. She loved her guitar," Joy says of her daughter, Asbill, displaying her photos.

These pictures fuel her desire to help make a difference and save others from death by strangulation.

"I wake up thinking of her," Joy said. and thinking of things that you know I watched her do through her whole life and pictures, and…I go to bed thinking about her," Joy says.

Joy says that before Asbill was strangled to death, there was a pattern of non-fatal strangulation. She wants to help others out of abusive relationships before things end as they did here, and get a bill in the Senate passed to make non-fatal strangulation a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

"[We're] going to save lives in South Carolina," Joy said.

Officer instructor at the Criminal Justice Academy Brian Bennett backs the bill, too. He was instrumental in helping to write it.

"The act of strangulation is commonly used in many types of assaults, not just domestic violence and intimate partner, in child abuse, vulnerable adult cases, kidnapping, sexual assault, human trafficking," Bennett said.

Bennett specializes in domestic violence and newly, in the area of strangulation.

"The strangulation is the warning shot," Bennett said. "Research has shown that strangulation is the number one indicator that that offender is going to kill later."

The bill's sponsor is Sen. Katrina Shealy (R- Lexington).

"That's probably our main focus, victims of dating violence, victims of domestic violence because that's what this leads to. Strangulation is a crime that you can commit, and there can be no evidence," Shealy said.

Joy wants this measure of intervention made in her daughter's honor.

"I know she would be very happy. I know she's smiling down at me, and I know she...she pushes me every day. She does, to get up and do something," Shealy said.

The bill goes further to define strangulation, making it "The restricting of air flow or blood circulation of a person by external pressure to the throat or neck, or the blocking of the nose or mouth of a person. A person commits the offense of strangulation if he, without consent, impedes or creates a substantial risk of impeding the normal breathing or circulation of blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck of another person, or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person."

Bennett said that since there are often no outward physical signs of non-fatal strangulation, he is working with doctors and coroners to further detect signs and study the results. He says victims do not always immediately succumb to their injuries; victims can die days, weeks, or months, after suffering injuries due to strangulation.

The bill S. 172 is now set to be debated by the full Senate on the floor. That could happen as soon as Tuesday.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.