COLORADO — Our News 5 Investigates team was first to expose a major failure to protect domestic violence survivors from their alleged attackers.
Our reporting on low bonds and minimal consequences caught the attention of State Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-District 14).
This year, Sandridge drafted legislation to increase bond amounts for any case involving a protection order violation.
Unfortunately, the bill hit a snag and never made it out of the House this legislative session.
The push for change:
Jurii Stolpp, 36, was found shot to death off of a rural road in Teller County last year.
"She was a good mom and cared a lot about her kids," Lauren Bidnick, Jurii's friend said via a ZOOM interview.
In the same field where Jurii was found, her estranged husband was located. The case appears to be a murder-suicide.
Prior to Jurii's death, Jurii reportedly told Lauren that there were problems in the marriage and that she planned to move on.
Lauren says she always suspected domestic violence in their relationship.
"When she was here at my house telling me she wasn't going back and she was going to leave him," Lauren said. "I told her if she didn't, he was going to kill you."
Little did Lauren know that her fears would later become a reality.
In the months prior to her death, we uncovered troubling court records that raise serious questions over whether more could have been done to protect Jurii.
Timeline of events (2020):
January 24: Jurii's husband, Jacob, is arrested for child abuse and harassment. He's released on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond.
January 31: Jacob is arrested for violating a protection order. He gets out on a $2,000 bond.
February 25: Jacob is arrested for violating a protection order for a second time. Once again, he's released on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond.
March 20: Jurii files official paperwork for a divorce.
April 8: Jacob is arrested for violating a protection order. This is his third offense.
April 30: Both Jurii and Jacob are found dead.
"It's incomprehensible how that could even happen," Lauren said. "He was stalking her. Maybe the first time you get to spend the night in jail and then maybe anger management. Two times (of violating a protection order), that should be a felony. Those protection orders should actually mean something."
Sandridge drafted HB 21-1078---which aimed to set a minimum bond of $10,000 for anyone who is arrested for violating a protection order.
A second offense and subsequent offenses would carry a minimum bond of $25,000.
The bill has the support of newly elected District Attorney Michael Allen.
"Anything we can do to protect victims and make them safe and prevent them from being victimized in the future, I think we should be doing those things," Allen said. "If that means legislative changes, then absolutely I would support something like that."
A month after the bill was introduced, it, unfortunately, was pulled.
"I talked with the Democratic Chair of the bill's first committee," Sandridge said. "He implied it will likely get killed. Currently, there is little appetite by the Democrat majority to increase penalties."
Sandridge says he's not giving up and will continue working on the bill to hopefully gain bipartisan support next legislation session.
For now, there will be no changes to the current system.
Meanwhile, Allen says he's open to future discussions on how to better protect domestic violence victims and deter their alleged attackers from violating protection orders.
"I think there are some mechanisms that we can start to explore legislatively," Allen said. "I would be involved in any discussions that any legislators would like to have on that front."
We'll follow up next legislative session to see whether a new bill is introduced.
Have a story idea or problem you'd like News 5 Investigates to look into? Email us: News5Investigates@KOAA.com