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House committee says kill bill limiting arrests for violations of protective orders

CONCORD - With a roomful of people, including Melissa Charbonneau's father, a House committee voted 13-0 Wednesday to recommend killing a bill that would limit police arrest powers for violating a domestic violence protective order.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recessed its hearing on House Bill 1608 last week, after the prime sponsor Rep. Harold Reilly, R-Hill, failed to appear. He did not appear today and the committee decided to recommend the bill be killed.

After the committee's 13-0 vote, Charbonneau's father, John Cantin said he was pleased with the committee's action. 'It's very nice to see that the committee and everybody else had the common sense to know this is a terrible bill,' he said.

He said not only does a person with a protective order need police to make an arrest to defuse a volatile situation, police who respond cannot take chances and need to be able to make a quick arrest.

Melissa Charbonneau, 29, was killed Oct. 22, 2009, by her husband, Jonathan, in a murder-suicide at their home on Jewett Street in Manchester. She was shot three times in the stomach and once in the neck with a hunting rifle as she went to the house with her father to pick up her belongings.

She had obtained a restraining order against her husband earlier that week and had been awarded custody of their minor child.

Along with limiting the actions that could result in an arrest for violating a protective order, the bill also removes a section of law giving the victim the authority to file a criminal complaint against his or her spouse or partner.

The bill is one of several lawmakers will deal with this session that would change the state's domestic violence laws.

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