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Experts concerned about domestic violence spike in Alle-Kiski Valley

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 12:16 a.m.
Terrence Leroy Denny, 55, aggravated assault suspect from New Kensington.

A New Kensington man who allegedly used a hammer to hit a girlfriend last weekend is yet another example of domestic violence in the region, anti-violence experts say.

On Saturday, New Kensington police arrested Terrence Leroy Denny, 55, of 503 Carl Ave., for allegedly punching the 48-year-old New Kensington woman and hitting her on the head with a hammer, police said.

According to an arrest report, the woman called police just before 3 p.m. to tell them she was assaulted by Denny in his residence.

Police said the woman was hospitalized and Denny was arrested in his bed, without incident, on a single charge of aggravated assault. Her condition wasn't available on Monday.

Records show that Denny was in the Westmoreland County jail on Monday in lieu of $50,000 bond. He is awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday.

“This is yet another example of violence among intimate partners,” said Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center Director Michelle Bond.

“In the last couple of weeks, the numbers have been worse than the last 10 years that I have been doing this,” she said.“The severity of the violence is increasing,” she said, “but a single reason is difficult to pinpoint.”

According to police, on the night of Feb. 23, Michael L. Lunsford Jr., 21, of Murrysville, fatally shot Gina M. Llewellyn, 50, of Allegheny Township, and wounded her daughter, Lynall Llewellyn, 22, of Murrysville before fatally shooting himself.

Police said the shooter's estranged wife had been staying with the Llewellyn family. The Llewellyns brought the wife to a meeting at a Murrysville parking lot arranged by Lunsford, where he ambushed them.

In another case, Clinton C. Cohen, 27, no fixed address, is accused of dousing Maria Redman, 22, with a flammable perfume and igniting her at her Springdale apartment on Thursday. Their 3-month-old daughter was in the room.

Cohen was arrested after a two-day manhunt. On Monday, Redman was listed in serious condition in West Penn Hospital, Pittsburgh.

Cohen's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday in Harmar. Police said Cohen, who is charged with attempted homicide and seven other offenses, previously had been charged with domestic abuse.

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence said 118 victims and 48 perpetrators died in domestic violence in 2011.

The coalition's preliminary numbers for last year indicate that 113 victims and 32 perpetrators died, according to coalition spokeswoman Ellen Lyon.

Despite the slight decrease in domestic violence deaths statewide, local domestic violence advocates are seeing more traumatic cases so far this year.

Bond believes society often doesn't handle domestic partner abuse properly.“If you or I are convicted of assaulting a stranger, the penalty would be much more than for someone convicted of harming an intimate partner,” Bond said.“This is a societal issue,” said HAVIN director Jo Ellen Bowman of the domestic abuse shelter in Kittanning.

Some people consider family business private even if there is domestic abuse, she said.

“And the victim is usually blamed. That shouldn't happen,” Bowman said. “People need to know that most of the abused have tried to leave before, but they are so incredibly threatened they are in fear of leaving.”

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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