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Supporters say bill making strangulation a felony could help save lives

Oregon Capitol. (KATU Photo)

The state Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would make some strangulation cases a felony.

Right now, Oregon treats all strangulation as a misdemeanor. Some say the harsher penalties could save lives.

Nearly 20 people and groups testified. They included medical officials, law enforcement and sexual assault specialists.

Wendy Libke wrote a statement. Her husband, Rob, was an Oregon City police officer. He was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2013.

Libke said her husband’s killer had a history of strangulation and harsher penalties could have prevented the tragedy.

Her written testimony was read by Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band.

"How can something so predictive of men who kill be treated so lightly by the criminal justice system in Oregon? she wrote. "If Oregon had taken strangulation more seriously, my husband might be alive today."

She also wrote, ‘I do not want anybody to ever forget the amazing man Rob was, and the sacrifice he made to this community.”

If the bill passes, strangulation would become a felony when the victim and suspect are family or live in the same house.

It would also expand the definition to include choking a victim by pressing on their chest.

Track this bill: Senate Bill 1562.

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