Kulik introduces bill aimed at safeguarding domestic abuse victims

Measure is in response to grisly October 2017 murder of Pitt U

HARRISBURG, March 7 – Nearly a year and a half has passed since the murder of University of Pittsburgh student Alina Sheykhet, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in October 2017, just shy of a month after Sheykhet filed a protection-from-abuse order against her former partner.

Time, however, has not diminished the brutality – and preventability – of Sheykhet’s death, said state Rep. Anita Kulik.

Kulik, D-Allegheny, recently introduced H.B. 588, a measure that would give judges discretion as to whether or not a PFA defendant should wear an electronic monitoring device if the defendant poses a threat of violating the order.

Coined “Alina’s Law,” Kulik hopes H.B. 588 will ensure Sheykhet’s murder isn’t just a statistic, but a starting point in combatting domestic violence in Pennsylvania.

“In 2017, there were 117 deaths in the commonwealth as a result of domestic violence, Alina’s death included,” Kulik said. “Alina, who was a member of the community and whose parents still reside in my district, did her part by filing a PFA against her ex-boyfriend, but it wasn’t enough.

“The threat on her life fell through the cracks of the state system, and as a result she lost her life. It’s time the commonwealth did its part by guaranteeing the safety of domestic abuse victims and making sure defendants don’t violate these orders.”

On Oct. 8, 2017, Sheykhet, 20, was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Matthew Darby, at her house on Cable Place in Oakland, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Police said Sheykhet suffered multiple chop and stab wounds to the head and face. Through investigative measures, police said, Darby quickly was identified as a person of interest and was arrested on Oct. 11, 2017, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Darby pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Sheykhet’s killing on Oct. 17, 2018. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

House Bill 588 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.