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updated: 1/10/2014 5:18 PM

Slain Antioch woman's daughter, state rep want tougher orders of protection

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  • Officers investigate the death of an Antioch woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. A bill before the state legislature would require judges to explain their reason if they don't impose electronic monitoring in cases where there is an order of protection.

       Officers investigate the death of an Antioch woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. A bill before the state legislature would require judges to explain their reason if they don't impose electronic monitoring in cases where there is an order of protection.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
By Marty Hobe
mhobe@dailyherald.com

To Jamie Kephart, an order of protection is just a piece of paper.

"The fact that it's called an 'order of protection' is a complete joke," Kephart said.

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Kephart's mother, Diane, was killed last March in Antioch by her estranged ex-boyfriend, who was supposed to stay 500 feet away from her because of such an order.

The ex-boyfriend, Paul Neff, had been charged with aggravated battery in February after being violent with her, and she filed to get an order of protection.

A few weeks later, Neff ambushed her on her way to work and fatally wounded her in the neck with a knife. Neff took his own life shortly after.

Kephart is working with state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, a Crystal Lake Republican, on a law that she hopes could help police better track a person who is subject to an order of protection.

Wheeler's plan would require judges to record why they did or didn't order a monitoring device when granting an order of protection. Because they have to give their reasoning, judges would be more accountable, Kephart and Wheeler hope, adding it could lead to more orders for the devices.

"Jamie came to me with this story and said we need to change the law," Wheeler said. "This ludicrous piece of paper is not enough to protect people. If someone is out to hurt another person, they're going to do it whether or not a piece of paper tells them they can't."

However, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said the sheriff's office doesn't have the staff to monitor defendants, even if bail money helps pay.

"We can say with great certainty we are exhausted at this point," Curran said. "Without funding there is no way the sheriff's office could take this on."

Curran believes orders of protection often don't go far enough, but he said judges have the option not to grant bail if they're concerned about safety. Curran is also concerned with how the system would work, because he said the sheriff's office has not been involved in Wheeler's proposal.

"We're all for being involved with keeping people safe and involved in the process of how we do that," he said. "But we've been left out of this process."

State Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, is planning to support Wheeler in Springfield and believes cost won't be a factor.

"The expense associated with this could have been a problem but we made it optional," Sandack said. "It allots the professionals on the front lines to use their discretion to choose to use this."

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