Domestic Violence Victim Diona Clark Pleads With Court to Imprison Ex Who Shot Her Twice
Diona Clark Gives Court Testimony

Diona Clark, front left, tells the court she would like Larry Belcher, who shot her twice, to serve prison time, as Belcher sits behind her with his attorney Jim Owen, right.

Domestic violence victim Diona Clark gave testimony Wednesday at a sentencing hearing for her ex-boyfriend. Drying tears with a tissue, she said she would like her ex-boyfriend to serve prison time for having shot her twice. The first bullet entered under her left arm, the second bullet entered the left breast, went inches from her heart, after grazing her hand which required microsurgery, collapsed her lung, and chipped her rib.

But the Judge, Stephen McIntosh, extended the final sentencing for three weeks until Wednesday 29 May, so he can determine whether the defendant, Larry Belcher, can be housed in prison, since he shot himself in the head after shooting her, and remains in a wheelchair 14 years later with other associated medical conditions.

Clark told the court, “My desire is for him to serve prison time...I don’t think he is remorseful for what he has done to me. I would like him to be judged according to what he has done to me.”

Belcher read to the court from a prepared statement in a low monotone voice that he had no memory of what happened, the evidence had been destroyed by the police, and the “neutral witness” had passed away, but said “I have to grapple with the fact that I must accept responsibility for the tragic events of that day.” He declined to give a comment after the hearing.

Judge McIntosh said he will impose a three year sentence, the maximum sentence under the statute for the current charge of abduction, if the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirms Belcher can be housed in prison with his condition.

Belcher accepted a plea deal to the charge of abduction that left sentencing to the court since he was charged with the more serious offense of kidnapping that would have had a maximum sentence of 11 years, but the evidence was destroyed by the police. The statute of limitations expired on attempted murder or felonious assault before the police charged him two years ago on kidnapping for the crime which occurred September 2005.

Charges were only filed at all after Clark pushed the police for what she said felt like over a year, and thanks to the support of Ohio State Representative Bernadine Kennedy Kent. Clark said Representative Kennedy Kent arranged a meeting with Police Chief Kim Jacobs, now retired, who apologized that nothing could be done because the statute of limitations had expired. According to Clark, Representative Kennedy Kent then said to Chief Jacobs, “‘I found kidnapping in her report, and the statute of limitations has not expired. If I can find something like this, certainly you can find something to charge him with.’”

Prosecutor Ron O’brien asked the court hear from Clark how she was affected by the offense and “how mistepps along the way by the police department have affected her ability to recover.”

The Columbus Police Division Spokesperson Chantay Boxill said she would discuss the case with the author, set a specific time Wednesday she would call, but did not, and did not answer when called at the agreed time, and two days later has not replied to voicemail left at that time.

Clark, who is black, told the Columbus Free Press “they just put my case to the side...They didn’t follow through like they should have.” Prosecutor O’brien told the Columbus Free Press after the hearing, “The police department should have and does have, I presume, some sort of policy to ensure that that sort of follow up does happen.”

Police historically did not treat domestic violence as a crime, but as a private matter, and while black women are “two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than their White counterparts” according to the Institute For Women’s Policy Research, non-white female victims of intimate partner violence are less likely to have their perpetrators arrested by police, according to the study Race and the Likelihood of Intimate Partner Violence Arrest and Dual Arrest.

Clark said the incident occured after she separated from Belcher. He came to her house to pick up some dishes he owned, but then spoke about how she wouldn’t care if he died, she said. Then he pulled out a gun. She said she tried to assure him that she cared about him, and didn’t want him to kill himself, but wanted to leave, and when she ran for the door, he pulled her back inside, shut the door, blocked the entrance, and pleaded with her not to call the authorities.

Then when she tried to reach for the door, she said that is when he shot her twice in the torso near the heart. She managed to get out to the front of the house and get the neighbors to call 911. She said the first responders arrived on the scene, as she was wincing in pain. A doctor stepped forward and said, “if you don’t stop moving you’re going to die,” and she next remembered waking up in the hospital. That’s when she learned Belcher also shot himself in the head.  

According to Giffords Law Center, “Guns kept in the home are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal unintentional shooting, criminal assault or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense. Rather than conferring protection, guns in the home are associated with an increased risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.”

Clark said she still suffers extreme anxiety attacks and attends psychotherapy regularly because of what Belcher did to her. Clark started Liv Out Loud Enterprises which works to “educate, empower and prevent” domestic violence. She is the author of the book Survival is Victory, and was a vocal proponent of Ohio House Bill 1 of the 132rd Ohio General Assembly which came into effect last July and makes non-married couples eligible for restraining orders against abusive partners.

1. Larry Belcher sits with his attorney Jim Owen on the left, while Diona Clark stands next to Prosecuter Ron O'brien, center. 2. Judge Stephen McIntosh presides over the sentancing hearing of Larry Belcher. 3. Diona Clark wipes tears after giving testimony to the court.