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Woman starts petition to keep abusers in jail until trial after Calumet County murder-suicide

A woman in Appleton has started a change.org petition to change Wisconsin law after a man was released from jail on bond for domestic violence and then killed his wife last week in Calumet County.

On Tuesday, January 9th, Sarah Schmidt was shot and killed by Robert Schmidt, her husband of fifteen years, in Calumet County. He then shot and killed himself.

On New Year's Eve, Sarah had been brutally abused by her husband for hours after telling him she wanted a divorce. She was able to escape and report the abuse to police, and Robert was charged with two felonies relating to domestic violence.

Robert was ordered not to have contact with his wife or carry a firearm. He paid the $10,000 cash bond on January 5th, and killed his wife four days later.

One woman in Appleton, Katie Huskey, didn't know Sarah Schmidt personally, but they were in a Facebook group for moms in the Fox Valley together.

Katie Huskey is a sexual assault survivor, a social worker, a therapist, and an advocate.

After learning about what happened to Sarah, she wanted Wisconsin laws to change so that abusers cannot get out of jail on bond, but instead, sit in jail until their trial begins so that their victims may stay safe.

So last Saturday, she created this petition.

"We're hoping to change the current legislation around bond in order to further protect brave survivors who come forward and share their stories and report their stories to law enforcement," Huskey explained. "Right now, in my opinion, it's just too easy, it's too easy to get bond, and to be let out into the community, back where they can cause further harm and further danger."

In the petition's description, Huskey writes about how Sarah Schmidt, "Did what we 'expect' domestic abuse victims to do, and yet she was murdered because our systems did not protect her."

The petition currently has more than 16,000 signatures. 

"The law that we're proposing is that when someone is charged with violent domestic felonies, that there is not an option for bond, that that option has just been removed," Huskey said.

She believes if a law like this had already been in place, Sarah Schmidt would still be alive, and with her three children.

"Her abuser would probably still be in jail right now, maybe awaiting his trial, you know it's hard to say 'what if,' but I do, I do think she would be alive right now," Huskey said.

Katie Huskey says there is no specific number of signatures she has in mind, but once she is prepared she plans to turn the petition in to Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, as well as several Wisconsin lawmakers, and hopes to meet with them to talk about current laws regarding domestic abuse.



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