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TN lawmakers consider bill aimed at supporting survivors domestic violence

The Gabby Act is aimed at supporting survivors of domestic violence and preventing it from happening.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill focused on helping domestic violence survivors is getting renewed attention in Tennessee, and the idea came from East Tennessee. The Gabby Act, or SB 0303, aims to help prevent a repeat of a tragic double murder-suicide.

"Hats off to them because it's well-needed,” said Jennifer Robinette.

Robinette was close friends with Kristina Kennedy and her daughter, Gabby. Police said the two were killed in 2020 by Kristina's estranged husband, who then killed himself. An arrest warrant was issued against him just days before, but officers said they couldn't find him.

“There were so many warning signs, so yes, this could have been prevented,” Robinette said. “And as far as the law, I don't understand why they didn't see those signs.”

Robinette described Kristina as a kind woman.

“We took our kids to Myrtle Beach. We spent so much time together. She was such a wonderful person, Gabby was just as well. She learned from her mother for sure,” she said.

“She's someone everyone knew, and knew as a positive light,” said Trevor Lee. “And when you hear stories of her and her mom, you never hear anything but that.”

Lee went to Tennessee High School with Gabby. He started Gabby's Foundation to advocate for the Gabby Act.

Sponsored by Rep. John Crawford and Sen. John Lundberg, it would create a task force in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation focused on domestic violence and child abuse. It would also require survivors to be alerted, on request, if their abusers are released from prison and create a Purple Alert system, much like Amber Alerts, if a survivor goes missing.

It was delayed last year due to cost and constitutional questions, but now it's back on the table.

“This October will have been three years,” Lee said. “And there are still things on the books their stories are paving the way for.”

This story was originally reported by WCYB in the Tri-Cities area.

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