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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

[MI] Neighbors didn't call the police when State Police Sgt. Melvin Paul Holbrook's wife Joni was abused.


We MUST ALL learn from
every domestic violence death.


...Barbara Johnson who lived for about three years on Derby Road near the Holbrooks, said Joni Holbrook appeared at Johnson's home last fall and said her husband had just beaten her. "I asked, 'Why don't you call the cops?'" Baker said. "(Joni) said 'He is the police.'"... "She came to my house twice to borrow the phone so someone would help her... I have watched him push her out in the snow with no coat and then fling her clothes out, and heard arguments in the middle of the night so loud we would get up and listen... " Baker said she and her mother never called police to report the alleged abuse, and she's not sure if Joni Holbrook ever did...


Previous post:
[MI] Joni Holbrook charged with murdering husband, State Patrol Sgt. Melvin Holbrook
- ...Deputies say when they arrived they found that Sergeant Holbrook had been shot dead in his bed. His wife again admitted to shooting her husband..

QUESTIONS BUILD IN TROOPER'S DEATH
No motive known; neighbors allege abuse

Traverse City Record Eagle
By Art Bukowski and Brian Mcgillivary
Published: August 11, 2009 06:50 am
[Excerpts] BEULAH - Questions abound in the death of a Michigan State Police sergeant whose wife told authorities she shot him in their Benzie County residence. Benzie Sheriff's deputies found Melvin P. Holbrook, 53, dead in his home on Derby Lane shortly after 1 a.m. Monday. Holbrook, 53, served since 2002 as a desk sergeant at the state police post in Traverse City. Police arrested his wife of ten years, Joni K. Holbrook, 47. She was arraigned Monday morning on an open count of murder in front of Benzie District Judge Brent Danielson and is being held without bail... Holbrook's defense attorney is Jesse L. Williams, of Traverse City. "She has certainly endured an enormous amount of hardships that no one should have to endure and when the time is right and appropriate we will comment on those hardships," Williams said. Neighbors of the Holbrooks said the couple had a stormy relationship and that they witnessed signs of physical abuse. Brooke Baker, a daughter of neighbor Barbara Johnson who lived for about three years on Derby Road near the Holbrooks, said Joni Holbrook appeared at Johnson's home last fall and said her husband had just beaten her. "I asked, 'Why don't you call the cops?'" Baker said. "(Joni) said 'He is the police.'" Johnson, who moved from the neighborhood July 10, said the alleged abuse wasn't hard to detect. "She came to my house twice to borrow the phone so someone would help her," Johnson said. "I gave her advice; she should leave him. I have watched him push her out in the snow with no coat and then fling her clothes out, and heard arguments in the middle of the night so loud we would get up and listen... We know that was an officer there, and we were kind of shocked at the behavior that was going on." Baker said she and her mother never called police to report the alleged abuse, and she's not sure if Joni Holbrook ever did. Capt. Tim Rod, commander of the state police's 7th District headquarters, refused to say if the state police ever had disciplinary issues with Holbrook. "That wouldn't be something I could comment on," he said... The couple separated in November 2007. She moved out of the house and he filed for divorce in Benzie County Circuit Court two months later on Jan. 11, 2008. Within two weeks the couple agreed to reconcile, court records show, and the divorce case eventually was dismissed. Members of Joni Holbrook's extended family were struggling with the news Monday and didn't want to talk about it. "She's a great person, we all love her dearly, and this is really a hard time," said her cousin, Terri Zenner. Joni Holbrook's adult son was in the residence at the time of the shooting and provided a statement to police, but Heckman wouldn't give details. Holbrook hired on with the state police in 1986... "He was always willing to help other people," said Lt. Bill Elliott, his boss at the Traverse City post. "Always kind of bubbly, always in good spirits." Holbrook volunteered for the Benzie Central School track team for the past four years and worked closely with the shot-put and discus throwing athletes, school officials said. His daughter will be a senior there this year... [Full article here]


Update:
WOMAN ACCUSED IN HUSBAND'S DEATH CITES ABUSE

ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUGUST 11, 2009
Detroit Free Press
An attorney for a northern Michigan woman accused of fatally shooting her husband says the Michigan State Police sergeant "abused and tortured" her for years leading up to his death. Jesse Williams, defense attorney for 47-year-old Joni Holbrook, said today that Holbrook was "physically, mentally and sexually" abused by her husband, 53-year-old Melvin Paul Holbrook. Williams didn't say if Joni Holbrook admitted killing her husband. Joni Holbrook is charged with open murder in her husband's death. He was found dead Monday at their home in Benzie County's Homestead Township, about 20 miles west-southwest of Traverse City. Melvin Holbrook was a 23-year police veteran assigned to the Traverse City post. [LINK]
[police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement fatality fatalities murder michigan ptsd battered women's syndrome post traumatic stress disorder]

11 comments:

  1. I am not blaming.

    I want to know what the State Police knew.

    I do call the police when there is violence around me and I will continue to encourage others to do the same.

    Did someone? We don't know.

    He was so esteemed, would it have mattered?

    Neighbors could fear that nothing would be done and that Sgt. Holbrook would have access to their report... like maybe Joni feared.

    Officer involved is different for so many reasons and this is just one of them.

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  2. I don't even know what to say. All I can think, though, is how important it is to build a record, order of protection, history, something, just in case you have to defend yourself in the future...But does it work, when your spouse IS the police? I don't know.

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  3. Even if she had a history built it would not have mattered. he was the police as she said. I had a history built and it did not matter with me, my ex was able to literally get away with murder.

    In his case he was protected by the entire good ol boys netwrok, this man was protected by the boys in blue.

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  4. I knew Joni & her children from long ago. I even had paid a traffic ticket while she sat behind the desk. I also know how officers of the law can be. I have respect for them, but I also have a distrust for many of them. My biggest fear in this case is that it is being investigated by Benzie Co police. Comment to the local newspaper by Benzie Sheriff amounted to his disbelief of the abuse and the irrelevancy of it on the case. IRRELEVANCEY??? Abuse in the form of mental, physical and the sickening sexual and he dares to say he '...feels the allegations of abuse wouldn't likely affect the outcome of the case."
    As a child I looked up to Joni for her beauty and class. It saddens me to think she has "...been reduced to a shell of a person." as stated by her lawyer. What happens to a dog (as the abuser often sees his victim) after it's been beaten for so long? The dog bites back and is then punished. Hardly the justice a man with a badge should uphold.
    I feel for the family of Melvin Holbrook. I feel worse for Joni for living a nightmare for so long with no one to defend her until it is too late. An abusive man with a badge is not a man, but a hypocrite. I pray Joni gets the help she truly needs to recover.

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  5. And you know all of her allegations are factual how? Of course we will never hear her husband's side of the story, she killed him. I wonder if any of you feel as sorry for the children of this man left behind as you do for a murderer? I wonder if all of these people leaving comments on various sites have any consideration or compassion for his young daughter who adored him, who will now have to live her life without him? Her history stated she worked with the court system herself once upon a time, surely she had her own contacts, surely she wasn't that naive to think she could be tortured and beaten and NOTHING would be done about it.. Come on! Maybe she should have went center stage in the spotlight in divorce court, instead of murdering him like a self-fish coward in his sleep. Obviously by her actions she isn't that fabulous, she didn't care about all the lives she has turned upside down now, all the heartbreak she has caused so many people. I honestly hope she spends the rest of her life in prison or in a mental institution.

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  6. This is directed to "anonymous"...
    No one can bring him back. It is sad when ANY life is lost. Even a criminal's life has some value. By your comments, I can only wonder, have you yourself ever been in a controlling relationship? Perhaps you feel you are "better than to ever let that happen". So was I once. So was Joni. You ever try to tell a police officer or his fellow officers he was wrong and you were right? Have you ever accused an officer of anything and had it stick? I have family who work in law enforcement. It doesn't matter who you "know" in the building when your asking a cop to file charges against another cop. Do you live in Benzie Co.? Are you aware of the rivalry between the State post in TC and the Co post in Beulah? I myself have witnessed it firsthand. Your right, we can't ask him. We will never know his side of the story. Perhaps, as an officer, Mel should have thought of his own daughter and the potential outcome of his action, jail, prison, loss of a job, a cover up...ect. Did HE think of his wife? Her children? His own children? His Ex-wive(s?)
    I agree murder is wrong. Have someone put the fear of God in you for ten +/- years and back it up with multiple physical and sexual assaults. Until you've been there, don't pass judgement on a subject you clearly are uninformed of.
    Imagine an officer torturing your sister for years. Then sleep with knowing your blaming her for being pushed too far.
    I apologize for any direct offense I may stir, I simply wish more informed opinions on us all. One can always do more. Including both you and myself.

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  7. Not knowing all the "facts" one hesitates to say anything, however, a fellow by the name of Joe South wrote a song years ago entitled "Walk A Mile In My Shoes". Before we condemn Joni stop and consider her world for a second. I was a police officer for 6 years before going into another profession. As a young officer I remember riding with an older officer. We stopped by his home. His wife came to the door and he pulled out his service revolver, pointed it between her eyes,cocked it back and said: "fix us something to eat!" She did, but I have never forgotten the fear on her face. Hey, I love and respect our lawenforcement people, but nobody can say much, unless we "walk a mile in their shoes". May God's peace carry all through this trying time.

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  8. If he was as bad as she said why the hell did she go back to him when she left and he filed for divorce is it because she is crazy oh maybe She is a human who took a human life she should pay but you got to remember she left had her own place he filed for divorce why did she go back she was out of the abuse I have been in a abusive relationship and when I got out I didn't go back and he was the one in jail that was her choice to go back so she has no excuse for murder she should spend the rest of her life in prison with nothing but four walls and bars She was crazy

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  9. Why do most who are abused go back? Mayb the previous poster didn't, but many do. Just because she moved out of the house & papers were filed doesn't mean the threats of violence stopped. Many victims will, under threats & pressure, even bail their abusers out of jail in fear of his release on bond. Or perhaps, after 8 years she knew he too had a human & decent side and was promised he would get help, he would stop, he would be better. Although from the outside looking in it's easy to judge and call her crazy or a fool, but she wasn't on the outside. Do you really believe he would've spent time in jail? He was a cop for goodness sakes! This is not a black & white world, unfortunately it is shades of gray, which leaves all to perspective.

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  10. I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT WHEN SHE MOVED OUT AND FILED FOR DIVORCE HE WOULD STALK HER! HE WAS A POLICE OFFICER AND HAD ALL THE MEANS TO "FIND" HER!!! PEOPLE SHOULD WAIT FOR ALL THE FACTS BEFORE THEY START JUDGING JONI!! PAUL WAS A SICK MAN AND HE USED HER ILLNESS TO HIS ADVANTAGE!! NO ONE DESERVES TO DIE, BUT SHE KNEW SHE WOULD LIVE A BETTER LIFE IN PRISON THAN THE REST OF HER LIFE WITH THAT MAN! HOW SAD IS THAT? SHE ALSO DIDNT GO TO THE COPS BECAUSE HE TOLD HER THEY WOULDNT BELIEVE HER BECAUSE HE HAD TOLD THEM ALL THAT SHE WAS CRAZY! SO WHY WOULD SHE GO TO THE COPS WHEN SHE KNEW THEY WOULDNT BELIEVE HER?? YOU CAN TELL BY THIS POOR WOMANS FACE THAT SHE HASNT SLEPT IN MONTHS, LOOK AT HER DARK CIRCLES!! IM SORRY THAT HIS CHILDREN LOST THEIR FATHER BUT JONIS CHILDREN LOST THEIR MOM YEARS AGO! AND LAST I KNEW PAULS OLDER CHILDREN DIDNT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIM!! THAT SHOULD SAY SOMETHING RIGHT THERE, DONT YA THINK??

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  11. This whole story has been discustedly twisted. As some may know, Joni had worked with the local juducial system for quite some time. The people of the court knew Joni previous to the crime. At the final sentencing, which was to only be a sentencing, the court allowed it turn into a trial. The pathetic part about that is this was a time for the family of Sgt. Paul Holbrook to say there last to Joni and allow there feelings to be told. The family had their time for that. Joni's family also wanted to share. Thed judge himself said that wasn't allowed at the sentencing, but he could sware them into witnesses in order for them to speak. Three family members and two "friends", one being another attorney, were then allowed to testify against Paul Holbrook even though it was NOT a trial, strictly a senctencing. The defence attorney fed questions to the witnesses and the prosecuting attorney simply sat with his mouth shut looking content with the situation. Paul's family felt dishonored and incredibly frustrated for traveling across the counrty to see an end to this nightmare, and all that occured was a trial against their lost loved one. They also sat through hours or vivid details about the sexual abuse supposably inflicted upon Joni. Every member of Paul's family will not ever believe for a second that he was abusive. The only evidence proving so was words from Joni's mouth herself. Oh ya, and the facts never came up in court either that Joni was bipolar AND schizophrenic. Do you really think that played no role in the murder of a man in his sleep? After the defense attorney was finished rubbing clear lies into Paul's family's face, the judge asked questions to a guest about battered wife syndrome, which i believe is very real, simply not in this case. It was very obvious that the judge had made up his mind prior to the sentencing and had informed the rest of the court members. I would assume so also in regards to the prosecuting attorney, since he simply allowed all of this to happen without even hesitating to cross examine the wittnesses. The family further more was desturbed when the final sentening was given as a min. of 6 years in prison. A brother-in-law of the family was given min. of 8 years for stealing. So is the court system telling us that it is better to steal a TV than to steal a life?

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