Robin's sister, Heidi Markow, started the Beginning Over Foundation, a grass roots group to cast a public spotlight on the tragedies caused by domestic violence. She has advocated for adoption of Robin's Law, which would track repeat domestic violence offenders with a statewide registry.
In recent months, Heidi has begun to advocate for specific victims in court, but it appears she has no training. She recently lashed out at a judge and the Northampton County DA for refusing to find Sara Randall's ex-boyfriend in contempt of a PFA order. Sara had seen someone she was unable to identify inside her car and just assumed that person had been sent there by her ex. Randall was a little short on something we call evidence.
After the judge properly refused to find contempt, a petulant Markow decided to call it quits. "I’m stepping down from advocacy." She also slammed Northampton County DA John Morganelli. "I’m done with him."
Apparently, Markow is back.
She has scheduled a news conference on the courthouse steps at 1:30 PM today to demand that Governor Rendell, Attorney General Tom Corbett, Northampton County Courts and DA John Morganelli keep another accused wifebeater, Jeff Polisikiewicz, behind bars. She's bringing his three ex-wives, who aren't too happy with him. He beat each and every one of them. For reasons that totally elude me, Heidi is also bringing someone from Easton Mayor Sal Panto's office. They are upset at Morganelli's decision to dismiss an aggravated assault felony charge in exchange for a plea to seven misdemeanors. Polisikiewicz, incidentally, currently resides at Chez Northampton.
Interestingly, the one person who Heidi failed to inform about this news conference is District Attorney John Morganelli.
I contacted him last night, and he defended the plea agreement. "The plea is an EXCELLENT result for the Commonwealth because it gives the judge optimum sentencing authority to give Polisikiewicz a long sentence if the judge so desires. All the victims will be heard at the plea and sentencing - they can ask for max on all charges!! They are unrealistic because they want a life sentence for the guy or 20 years. That that will not happen, even with a felony conviction. No bargain was made on sentencing -- that is up to judge with input from the victims. The misdemeanor ones carry a max of 5 years!!"
He also told me it would be difficult to get a conviction on an aggravated assault charge. The victim failed to seek medical treatment for ten days after the assault and only had bruising/soft tissue injury. She made no report to police until nine days after the incident. She has told the PFA office, in writing, that prior alleged assaults were "overblown" or did not happen. She asked to have a PFA dismissed. In a trial, she would be crossexamined on her written statement.
I also spoke to Jackie Taschner, the assistant DA prosecuting this case. "I'm a prosecutor, not a persecutor," she told me. While expressing empathy for Markow's dedication to domestic violence victims, Taschner told me she has to consider what will actually fly in court. She mentioned a recent case in which some abuser actually nicked his girlfriend's artery with a knife and she had to be medivaced. The jury would only convict the Defendant of recklessly endangering.
Markow certainly has good intentions. Domestic violence is very real and Heidi does a public service by drawing attention to the problem. But so do prosecutors and judges. I have to question whether she is calling a news conference or whipping up a lynch mob.