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Mandy Mayne was killed while waiting for a bus in Taylorsville. The killer, a vengeful ex with a criminal history, had abused Mayne and harassed her loved ones, Mayne’s family says.
In nearly a third of Utah homicides involving intimate partner violence, previous violent incidents had been reported to police by friends, family or others, according to a 2022 draft report from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.
Mayne’s family, which includes a prominent Utah politician, are now supporting efforts to give law enforcement officers in Utah more resources to, hopefully, they say, prevent future domestic violence deaths.
State Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, plans to propose a bill for the upcoming 2023 legislative session to create a state database of domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement so officers have quickly accessible records of past domestic violence incidents, even if previous calls had not lead to criminal charges.
His bill would also mandate that police ask survivors a series of questions, known as a Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), to evaluate their potential danger and, if needed, refer them to potentially life-saving services. Currently, some Utah police departments can voluntarily use the LAP, but the proposed bill would make it required statewide.
Weiler’s bill would allow the database to also be used by judges to determine someone’s bail status if charged with a crime, he said.
The longtime, Republican state senator and Jess Anderson, the commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety, discussed the bill during a meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board in December.
So long as an officer would file a police report, information from the domestic violence call would be collected by police and submitted to the database, Anderson explained.
The commissioner said he supports the proposed changes to how police handle domestic violence calls, adding a database would be of value to police in order to better track abusers in the state.
“Let’s give officers a tool at their fingertips,” Anderson said.
Seated with Anderson and Weiler during the meeting were Kent and Shauna Mayne, parents who know the painful toll that domestic violence can wreak on a family.
The Mayne’s only daughter, Amanda “Mandy” Mayne, was killed on Aug. 17 after her ex-husband shot her repeatedly while she waited for a bus in Taylorsville. The shooter, Taylor Ray Martin, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound a block from where Mayne was killed.
The parents told The Tribune they had problems with Martin from nearly the beginning of his relationship with Mandy, which was around 2016.
“Mandy just wanted to be happy,” Kent Mayne said. “She wanted to have a relationship. She met Taylor Martin at a workplace.”
Mandy’s death is a painful topic for her parents, but the two feel that if police are required to ask LAP questions — a series of pointed questions mean to determine the safety of a potential domestic violence victim — unnecessary deaths can be avoided.
Her death had a particular impact on one of her family members — Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. She and Mayne were cousins, and after the killing, Henderson said on Twitter that Mayne was, “a victim of the sort of violence that has become far too prevalent in our state.”
As part of his proposed budget for next fiscal year, Gov. Spencer Cox said he wants to allocate $53.5 million in funding to domestic violence prevention.
During a news conference on Dec. 9, Cox said, “This is much needed and long overdue, and I want to commend the lieutenant governor for her great work in this space.”
For Shauna Mayne, making police departments ask the questions contained in the assessment is crucial. In her daughter’s experience, police didn’t respond to some 911 calls she made due to Martin’s threats. Not only would Weiler’s bill require the LAP questioning, but it would also require officers to refer domestic violence survivors to resources if the assessment says a survivor’s life could be in danger.
The LAP questionnaire, which is already being voluntarily used by some agencies in Utah, is based on a similar 11-question program in Maryland. If someone answers “yes” to at least four questions, they are automatically referred to their nearest victim service provider. From there, survivors can be connected to and receive shelter and other needed services.
However, if someone answers “yes” to any one of the first three questions — which ask whether or not their partner has ever used or threatened to use a weapon, threatened to kill them or whether they believe their partner could kill them — they are automatically referred to their nearest victim service provider.
“Any time a (domestic violence survivor) says something — ‘I’m afraid, I need help’ — the LAP starts,” Shauna Mayne said. “That’s important to me. I’m hoping to see that’s the way this is implemented.”
Since 2016, Martin was arrested multiple times for assault and threatening violence, according to court records and a timeline provided to The Tribune by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.
In January 2018, Martin pleaded guilty to a felony witness tampering charge in connection with a 2016 case where he threatened to harm at least three members of the Mayne family. He also pleaded guilty in 2018 to threatening to shoot a judge presiding over one of his cases.
Because he was a felon, Martin wasn’t allowed to buy or possess guns, but that didn’t stop him from acquiring the gun that killed Mandy Mayne.
Kent Mayne said Martin acquired a “ghost gun” — an unserialized firearm that can be purchased without registrations or a background check and assembled — before killing his daughter.
“We are second amendment proponents, but he should not have been able to buy a (ghost) gun that easily,” Kent Mayne told The Tribune.
The bill would supplement the proposed budget. Weiler said, in total, the bill would ask for $65 million, though he realizes that’s a tall order.
“We may not get $65 million, but we’re not going to get nothing,” Weiler told The Tribune.
As of Friday, the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel has a draft of the legislation, and Weiler shared it with Henderson in late December, according to the lieutenant governor’s office. A draft of the bill has yet to be made public, nor has it received a bill number.
Weiler’s proposal would add to legislation passed during the 2021 Legislative Session. Then, the legislature passed a law requiring DPS to create a training program to teach officers how to use the LAP. The same bill sought to fix gaps in domestic violence data.
Editor’s note • Those who are experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, are urged to call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line, 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or the Utah Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line, 1-888-421-1100.
If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s 24-hour support.