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A Frankfort man accused in a domestic violence incident will be the first in the county prosecuted under Kentucky’s new strangulation law.

Kody A. Walker, 25, was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in Franklin County Circuit Court. He was initially arrested on a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault in connection with an Aug. 7 incident on Hudson Hollow Road. However, Walker now faces charges of first-degree strangulation, a Class C felony, and violation of a Kentucky domestic violence order, a Class A misdemeanor.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said Walker and the alleged victim had recently ended their relationship.

“She went to retrieve some property, and it turned physical,” Cleveland said. “So we ended up indicting him under this new strangulation statute.”

Walker was initially charged with domestic violence in District Court and released on his own recognizance. However, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office took the case before the grand jury to seek an indictment under the new strangulation law, meant to deter similar domestic violence. Walker now has an active warrant for his arrest.

“I’ve seen homicides created this way,” Cleveland said. “Aggressors go to apply pressure to the victim's neck to render them unconscious, and they end up killing them. This law was meant to prevent the strangulation that leads to that.”

Cleveland said this is the first case in Franklin County to be prosecuted under the new Kentucky law, effective June 27, that makes strangulation a felony. Before the legislation passed, strangulation could have been treated as a misdemeanor, depending on the degree of injury to the victim.

It passed the Senate during the 2019 General Assembly by a vote of 35-1 and the House by a 96-0 vote. Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law in May, saying Kentucky was overdue for a change to its domestic violence statutes.

“Women who find themselves victims of strangulation are seven times for likely to be killed,” Bevin said at the signing. “There should be absolutely no tolerance for this whatsoever.”

Only a couple of other states don't have separate statutes that treat strangulation as a felony.

People convicted of the crime could face up to 10 years in prison.

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