See below for some thoughts by Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria, Arlington), regarding this story about “Ibrahim Bouaichi, the Maryland man suspected of murdering Karla Elizabeth Dominguez Gonzalez in the West End last week, was released from jail on bond earlier this year while awaiting trial on charges that he attacked and raped her last fall, according to court records.”
A violent man in Alexandria in jail awaiting his rape trial – who should never have been released in the first place – was re-arrested in Prince George’s County, Maryland for drunk driving and attempting to ram his car into a police cruiser, and released there as well. The man then went back to Alexandria against the terms of his release and is believed to have murdered the woman he allegedly raped, Karla Elizabeth Dominguez Gonzalez. He was charged again in Alexandria -this time for murder – and shot himself upon his capture and died.
I’ve made clear publicly and privately that while I think people that pose no danger to the community (like drug offenders) should be released during this pandemic, people like this alleged rapist and killer must remain behind bars.
I give a lot of credit to the Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter and his team for strenuously arguing against the release of this man. Simply put, I think the judge made a tragically wrong decision here.
But the errors compound: when the man violated the terms of his release in Prince George’s County, Maryland, it appears that Prince George’s was unaware of his history in Alexandria, and Alexandria was unaware of his re-arrest in Prince George’s.
This needs to change at the federal, state, and local levels.
1) A vast improvement in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) database that tracks released criminals. We will need federal legislation and a necessary appropriation to update the FBI’s creaky antiquated database. But no one released in one state should be unknown to authorities in the other 49. Please encourage your federal representatives to work on this;
2) A vast improvement in VCIN (Virginia Crime Information Network) so that we at least know what’s happening when a dangerous person travels from one part of Virginia to another. I will be working on that state-level solution in the 2021 Session; and
3) More investigators in local Commonwealth Attorney’s Offices instead of having them all in the police department. Without changing the overall number of investigators or requiring much additional funding, I believe that Commonwealth’s Attorneys, rather than police, should be able to get involved in high-level investigations of very dangerous crimes. That way, a trained lawyer — rather than just the police and a magistrate — would be involved from the get-go in complicated charging decisions, often made in the middle of the night. This has been newly allowed under Virginia law. So I’ll be advocating that the localities I represent — Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax — adopt this proposal as well, as some smaller jurisdictions have done.
To be clear, I’m not advocating an end to police investigations: I want a reallocation of resources to allow the Commonwealth’s Attorney power to take over investigations early on of individuals alleged to be very dangerous. It would also be a useful reform to give more leeway for prosecutors to investigate police misconduct.
Rest in Peace, Karla Elizabeth Dominguez Gonzalez.
Your example will hopefully be used to reform our criminal justice system to make crimes like yours less likely to happen in the future.
My sister Janet was killed by her husband. One of the main reasons I ran for office was to work to protect vulnerable people like Janet and Karla from danger. May their memories serve as a blessing and as a reminder that our struggles against this menace continue.
I promise to you, Karla, as I have to all victims of domestic and sexual violence, that, if I have anything to say or do about it, your death and suffering will not have been in vain. We can make the system better. And you have my word I will work to do so.