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Man's 64-year sentence highlights importance of domestic violence awareness
Posted on 10/03/2017
Domestic ViolenceGREELEY, Colo. (Weld County D.A.) – Twenty-eight years ago, domestic violence became a forefront issue when Congress designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Despite decades of progress to curb the issue, communities across the nation, including those here in Weld County, continue to reel from the reality that domestic violence remains prevalent, even in 2017. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people are physically abused by an intimate partner annually, with women being the primary target.

So far this year, the Weld County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 925 domestic violence defendants, like 35-year-old Erie resident Mark Prentiss, whose case highlights the importance of domestic violence awareness.

Mark PrentissLast week, Prentiss was sentenced to 64 years in the Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to 11 felonies, including assault and witness tampering, and 51 counts of violations of a protection order.

According to police reports, he kidnapped his girlfriend on May 5, 2016 and spent six hours assaulting her while driving around the Denver-metro area. Among the many bruises on her body, the victim also had a broken nose. At one point, she tried escaping the car while parked at a red light, but Prentiss was able to pull her back into the vehicle, continuing his assault.

Thanks to local citizens calling 911, authorities were alerted and eventually caught the defendant after he crashed his vehicle.

Even behind bars though, the defendant continued his abuse by calling and writing the victim hundreds of times to influence her cooperation and testimony.

At the sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney Tate Costin pointed to the many similarities between Prentiss and most domestic abusers. “He is a master manipulator and is relentless in his pursuit of victimizing others. In this sentence, especially, we should send a message that we take all domestic violence cases seriously.”

Eventually, the hefty, 64-year sentence was handed down.

“We know that all too often a domestic violence victim today is a murder victim tomorrow,” Costin said.“The victim, in this case, could have easily met the same fate but for the many citizens and officers who came to her rescue.”

Although this 64-year sentence could lead to more victims speaking out, regrettably, many people like Prentiss don’t face consequences as nearly half of domestic violence incidents go unreported, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“Many times, victims of domestic violence believe there is no escape, that they are in it alone and there is no one to help,” said District Attorney Michael Rourke. “We must fight this notion every chance we get. From community advocates and outreach programs to law enforcement, there are countless groups who want to help. You should never feel imprisoned at the hands of a violent spouse. Don’t deal with this alone.”

If you, or someone you know, are a victim of domestic violence, call your local law enforcement agency or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), which offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.