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CONTACT 13: Nevada ranks third in nation in rate of women murdered by men

Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 06, 2016

Chances are you or someone you know has been affected by domestic violence. 

In fact, nearly half of all Nevada women have experienced it. 

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department remembered those who lost their lives over the last year to deadly domestic violence.  

32 names from July, 2015 through June, 2016. Each memorialized on a plaque and with a rose to honor the victim's life. 

Contact 13 continues an in-depth look at whether Nevada fails domestic violence victims and what can be done about this "State of Disgrace."

RELATED: CONTACT 13: Judge calls domestic violence 'home terrorism'

A grandmother shot on a Summerlin street. A young mother stabbed in her Henderson home. Police say both were killed by family members.

These horrific scenes have played out in our valley in just the last two weeks, contributing to Las Vegas' rising tide of domestic violence.

Nevada ranks third in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. There have been 12 domestic violence-related homicides in just Metro's jurisdiction so far this year.  

On June 29, Jason Dej-Oudom murdered his wife and their three children, then shot and killed himself. 

Shortly before that, Phoukeo Dej-Oudom tried to get a protection order against her husband.    

Despite a history of threats and domestic violence spanning two states, her request was denied by Family Violence Commissioner Amy Mastin. 

Mastin wouldn't talk to us on camera. 

We got answers from Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan.

"Is the court responsible? Yes. We're responsible for every decision we make. Is it our fault? No. It's his fault. He killed her."

Last year, the court reviewed nearly 8,000 Temporary Protection Order applications. 30 percent were denied. 

Sullivan says "better safe than sorry" is unfortunately not the law. But many believe the court failed the Dej-Oudom family.

"Whether they met that threshold or we missed the boat, that's people's judgment call. I might have looked at it, might have granted it. Another judge might have granted it."

"I just feel so sad for the families. And the kids! It's just... The kids. My god, the kids!  It's so sad," said domestic violence survivor Rosa Parra.

She knows what it's like to live in an abusive home. Her requests for protection orders were granted. But her husband, Joseph Ibarra, continually violated them. And police didn't always help. She recalls one conversation with a dispatcher.

"Well, is he trying to enter? And I'm like, he's knocking at the door. Well, you're not in danger. You're not in trouble yet."

So she decided to open the door.

"And obviously the lady starts hearing the screaming. And they send police."

When police showed, up, she says her husband fought them. And he had a knife. But they were able to arrest him,

Parra had to physically put yourself in danger to get the protection order enforced.

Judge Sullivan says on average, police make an arrest in only one of every four domestic violence calls, which can embolden abusers and make victims feel defeated. 

In Rosa's case, despite multiple arrests, Ibarra was never prosecuted for anything.

"We've got to hold batterers accountable," said Judge Sullivan. "Right now it's a misdemeanor. Why not make it a felony the first time?"

He believes the biggest step forward would be getting rid of guns in domestic abuse households.

"If you are a batterer, you shouldn't have a gun. Domestic violence? You shouldn't have a gun. Period!" Sullivan said.

He's calling for more money for judicial and law enforcement training and especially for shelters that can help victims navigate the legal issues while giving them a safe place to stay.

"I'm calling everybody out. Get off your butts and do something about it! Step up and get involved."

Many domestic violence programs report a critical shortage of funds and staff. 

But help may be on the way. The U. S. Department of Justice recently awarded Nevada $22 million to help crime victims and programs that support them. 

We'll be tracking that money to see how much goes to domestic violence shelters.