SHELBY, OH — Friends of a 22 year old Huron County woman found murdered this week believe Gaberien Clevenger would still be alive if a judge grated her request for a protection order days earlier.
"Had she had that piece of paper the day he came to the door, she would have felt confident calling them (police) knowing that he's breaking the law," said Lisa Davis, a friend who said Clevenger moved into her Shelby home two months ago wanting to escape her troubled marriage.
"She wasn't physically abused, but she was being mentally abused," said Davis. "She said she felt like she was a prisoner in her home."
Richland County investigators found Clevenger's body Tuesday in a wooded area near State Route 96 and Bowman Road. They say Clevenger's estranged husband, Alec Blair, admitted to stabbing the 22-year-old and led investigators to her body.
Davis said Clevenger wanted her marriage annulled. Court records show she sought a domestic violence civil protection order in January. In her petition, Clevenger claimed Blair harassed her by phone, broke her things, screamed in her face and sent her threats.
After a Feb. 5th hearing, a magistrate wrote that Blair "did acknowledge he sent her the message via social media" and that "he felt he should not have sent said messages but did so out of anger."
The judge denied Clevenger's request, finding she "failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that (Blair) committed domestic violence against her or her family members" since he did not sexually, or physically abuse Clevenger.
"No one should have to be hit, should ever have to experience that, get to that point before you get a piece of paper," said Davis who stated she was a domestic violence survivor.
In a statement, Richland County Domestic Relations Judge Heather Cockley wrote: "The Court is deeply heartbroken to hear of the passing of Gaberien Clevenger. The Magistrate assigned to this case has extensive experience in cases dealing with domestic violence and working as a prosecutor and as an advocate for victims of domestic violence. The Magistrate assigned to hear this case is responsible for applying the facts, as presented, to the law, and found that domestic violence had not been proven by a preponderance of the evidence."
She said she doesn't blame the judge for the decision, but believes the court failed to protect her friend.
Davis hopes the tragedy convinces lawmakers to revise to requirements for protection orders to include mental abuse too.
"This has to be changed," said Davis. She can't die for nothing. Her life has to have some kind of meaning."
Davis said she's still haunted by Clevenger's words after her petition for protection was denied.
"I'm just really scared that something's going to happen and it's going to be too late," recalled Davis.