Part One: Two PFAs That Failed to Protect
There is no such thing as a bulletproof restraining order. It's “just a piece of paper,” according to Circuit Court Judge Marissa McDermott of Lake County, Illinois. “In some cases, the highest chance of a homicide or attack comes right after a court filing or a hearing for a PO [protective order].”
Judge McDermott advises plaintiffs to have a physical plan for their own safety because the police can only enforce a PO after it's been violated.
Daniel Justin Miller – Anger Mismanagement
His ex-girlfriend did not have a plan, but Miller of Williamsport, Penn. did, albeit a bad one. Immediately after being served with a protection from abuse order on Dec. 1, he began to violate it by calling and texting her with threats. She reported the contact to the police. They promised to be on the lookout for him.
Shortly after midnight Dec. 2, Miller allegedly kicked in the back door where she lived. According to news and police reports, he threatened to kill anybody in the house who got in his way. Then he went upstairs, where he beat and strangled. He was still standing over her unconscious body when police arrested him.
She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He was taken to the Lycoming County Prison without bail. He has been charged with attempted homicide, strangulation, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and five other felonies and misdemeanors. If his ex-girlfriend dies, he will face the most serious charge of all.
Robert Vicosa – The PFA That Came Too Late
Robert Vicosa was a disgraced Baltimore County police officer who had been fired for egregious misconduct. As told in her petition for the PFA, he lured his estranged wife to his home in Windsor Township, Penn., on Friday, Nov. 12. The occasion was to celebrate her birthday with their daughters, Giana, 7, and Aaminah, 6. After the girls were put to bed, Vicosa detained her at gunpoint. For the next two nights, he forced her to use drugs and sexually assaulted her with the aid of his friend, Tia Bynum, an active duty BCPD officer.
Vicosa released the mother Sunday, Nov. 14, with the warning he would kill their children if she went to the police. She went to the police. At 8:56 p.m., District Judge Ronald Haskell Jr. signed a PFA against Vicosa. Why, as the mother alleges in a private criminal complaint, did York Area Regional Police Chief Timothy Damon delay service until 3:28 p.m. Monday?
It is not known when Vicosa, Bynum, and the children left the home, but it was empty when the warrant was finally served. What is known is that the frantic hunt for the little girls ended four days later in a roadside ditch in Maryland. Vicosa apparently shot Bynum while she was driving. By the time the police approached the car, Giana, Aaminah, and Vicosa were dead.
Stay Calm, Call an Attorney
It would be disingenuous to say a lawyer could have helped Miller or Vicosa. They were beyond reason. Don't let that be you or someone you love. If served with a PFA, stay calm. Obey the order. As upset as you likely are, acting on those emotions will not end well and only make matters much worse. As you'll see in part two of this report, consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney can be your best option. For professional legal counsel, call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.