INDIANAPOLIS — WRTV is looking into why legal protections for domestic violence victims don't always work as intended.
Krystal Walton was dropping her kids off at an Indianapolis daycare last Friday when the father of her youngest kid shot and killed her.
In March 2021, the father, Orlando Mitchell, was charged with battery, intimidation, strangulation and confinement. He was sentenced in July of this year; part of his sentence was a no-contact order for Walton. She also filed a protective order against him.
Two warrants for Mitchell were also filed. Once in August for violating probation and another in September for entering her home and contacting her. An advocate for domestic violence victims said this case was unusual because Walton fought to the very end.
"It's not to point blame and fingers at anyone in particular, but the system failed us. And we as domestic violence agencies are working hard to come together as one and see where that gap is between the system, victims, and survivors and bridge that gap," said Danyette Smith, Director of Domestic Violence Prevention for the City of Indianapolis.
Walton's fight for help has spiraled into a conversation about the proper protections to help save lives from domestic violence.
"I know for a fact that what I felt, there are so many victims on the other side of this camera that are on the other side of the TV that are watching this, and they're like well, I shouldn't do anything. If the system failed her, then it's going to fail me too," Smith said.
An unnerving feeling for many throughout the Circle City after Krystal Walton, a mother of two, was allegedly killed by the father of her youngest child outside their daycare Friday morning.
By the time of the deadly incident, Walton had an active protective and no contact order against Mitchell.
"Sometimes there is no advocate, there is no IMPD officer that is there that can protect an individual that has a gun with the intent to kill. There are some things we can't prevent besides jail," Smith said.
Smith knows from experience how it feels to be in this situation.
"The system did assist me in getting out of my domestic violence," Smith said. "From the protection order to getting that free lawyer, to having someone be able to get me a cell phone temporarily."
So how do you file a protective order against someone who is putting your life in danger?
The first step, you can file in person at the county clerk's office or online. Smith recommends reaching out to an advocate to assist with that form.
"Sometimes we know that doing them on your own as a victim and going through the motions, some things can be missed that can cause that protection order to be denied," said Smith.
Once filed, it can take up to 24 hours or as long as a court date before it's active. This is a free process that should not cost you anything, if attorneys are needed, there are local advocates with resources to help.
Once active, it's turned to IMPD to track the person down and serve the order.
"It's a major issue that comes up with these is trying to find the person that has the order filed against them. We do everything within our power to locate that person, but there are occasions where that doesn't happen," Sgt. David Lindsey with IMPD’s Domestic Violence Unit said.
In Walton's case, no matter how many times she filed against Mitchell, he continued to violate those orders.
When asked, "Do you think this kind of creates a revolving door? To the point where people committing these acts against someone will look at this as a piece of paper that doesn't mean anything?", Lindsey said his office will continue to do the work they do.
"I think the best we can do from our office is to continue to do the work that we are doing to help the victims to get charges filed, and as far as the courts, that's upon the courts and the judges to handle each suspect," Lindsey said.
"I know how that fear can come into place but doing that protection order is super important. Though we see those who are killed from domestic violence, you don't see all of the protection orders being submitted that helped save lives and helped protect victims of domestic violence," Smith said.
WRTV Investigates dug into how much weight protective orders can hold. We spoke to a woman who shot and killed her ex-husband — after he violated protective and no contact orders by entering her home.
Monica Conley said she did all she could to protect her family and feels the justice system failed her. She wants the Marion County prosecutor's office and IMPD to come down hard on those violating these orders.
“That is bs, they can do something. Every single time they can do something. I think a lot more should happen. Every time a person violates a restraining order those charges should be filed each time, there should be a new charge. They are stackable, so if you are a victim and your abuser calls you at 10:50, that can be a new charge. If they call you at 10:51, that can be another charge. Each time it should be taken seriously,” said Conley.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, there are resources available to you. If you need help, call the Indy Domestic Violence Champions line at 317-210-0671 or visit the Julian Center.