BANGOR — The father of murder victim Stephanie Gebo said Friday that he and others are launching a campaign for widespread use of electronic monitoring – ankle bracelets – for people charged with domestic violence crimes.

Vance Ginn said such a program might have saved his daughter’s life.

“We want those used as a pretrial program,” he said Friday, a short time after Robert Burton was sentenced to 55 years in prison for murdering Ginn’s daughter. “As pretrial, the victim is protected. The most dangerous time that there is in these cases is from the time of arrest to the time of court.”

Ginn said right now there is only paperwork – restraining orders and protection orders – to protect victims of domestic abuse. He said court orders work in some cases, but not all.

Paperwork did not stop Steven Lake from killing his wife and their two children in June 2011 in Dexter. Amy Lake had a protection order on her husband. Bail conditions prevented him from having contact with his wife and children. With a monitoring device, Lake could have been tracked when he approached his family’s home.

Robert Burton’s history of domestic violence officially began in July 2000 when he reportedly used duct tape on the wrists and mouth of a girlfriend – the same thing he tried to do to Stephanie Gebo before he shot her to death 15 years later.

For that domestic violence infraction, he went to prison for 10 years in 2003. His last day of probation was June 4, 2015, the day before Gebo’s body was found by her 13-year-old daughter in a pool of blood at their home in Parkman.

But in Burton’s case, unlike the Lake case, there was no call to police from Gebo and no protection order filed by Gebo against him. A monitoring device while Burton was on probation might have helped his earlier victim, but might not have done Gebo any good. Gebo was not Burton’s previous victim so the “exclusion zone,” the area a violator is not permitted to enter, would not have included her home.

Gebo slept with a gun beside her and was prepared to use it, according to court testimony.

Nevertheless, Ginn argues that ankle bracelets can provide protection.

“We need every piece of protection that we can get,” Ginn said. “Monitoring ankle bracelets will give another tool to our officers and if nothing else, if someone violates their bail, it’ll give our officers time to get there. The system that we have now, if something is awry, we don’t have the time to go get them.”

The Lake murders prompted the first electronic monitoring program in the state in Somerset County, where county commissioners approved use of a one-piece GPS monitoring device for tracking the movement of people charged with domestic violence crimes.

The program was the first in Maine, and money from an event sponsored by Amy Bagley Lake’s parents helped get it rolling.

“Somerset County was the first county to implement that technology,” Sheriff Dale Lancaster said by phone Friday. “It has been extremely successful and is now an integral part of our operations.”

Lancaster said the majority of the bracelets are used as a pretrial tool to protect alleged victims of domestic violence, but there are a couple of cases in which the devices are used post-conviction, depending on an agreement between the courts, the prosecutors and the defense team and on a case-by-case basis.

Lancaster said part of the probation for a convicted domestic offender is treatment in any one of several batterers’ programs. Until the treatment is successfully completed, authorities could still apply the ankle bracelets as a condition of release to keep the victim safe.

Lancaster said it’s hard to predict if another crime would have been prevented by electronic monitoring.

“Until the crime is committed, you can’t say that you stopped it, but I believe that it has been instrumental in keeping the victims safe,” he said. “We have had a few people that we’ve put on the ankle bracelet that we’ve been alerted that there’s been a violation of where they could and couldn’t go.”

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, was with Lancaster for a 5K walk-athon in Dexter held in June 2014 to raise public awareness of domestic violence after the Lake murders. The event was sponsored by Ralph and Linda Bagley of Harmony, Amy Bagley Lake’s parents. The event raised $14,000 for the electronic monitoring program. A race in 2012 raised $18,000 for the state to look into electronic monitoring.

Maloney said her Somerset County office was the first in the state with electronic monitoring because of the fundraising efforts by the Bagley family of Harmony to honor the memory of their daughter and grandchildren.

She said Kennebec County soon followed, as did other counties in Maine, including Waldo, Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties.

Maloney said in October she has seen successes with post-conviction monitoring.

“I have cases where the court has ordered electronic monitoring as a condition of probation,” Maloney said.

One of the cases, she said, was that of Andrew Maderios, the former high school music teacher from Pittsfield who was sentenced to serve three years in prison and then to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet for two years for domestic violence assaults against his then-girlfriend.

Ginn said he and his supporters will be conducting walks in Stephanie’s name sometime in the spring to draw attention to domestic violence and to help raise money for counties in Maine that don’t have an ankle bracelet program.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

[email protected]


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