From a tragedy comes a promise

STANWOOD — The mother of a Stanwood teenager murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2004 now hopes that something significant can come as a result of her daughter’s death.

Melody Hafner-Cottrell said she and the girl’s father will use a portion of a $1.75 million legal settlement with Snohomish County to try to prevent future tragedies. They plan to donate $100,000 to domestic violence prevention and international medical relief.

The legal agreement, finalized on Oct. 14, also included an pledge that the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will continue an expanded and comprehensive domestic violence training program.

Relatives of Dayna Fure alleged Stanwood police, which operates under contract with the sheriff’s office, didn’t do enough to protect her.

“The changes we effected in Snohomish County are essential to enforcing domestic violence laws,” Seattle attorney Andrea Brenneke said. She represented the parents in a federal civil rights lawsuit against Snoho­mish County, the city of Stanwood and three police officers.

Fure’s parents said Stanwood officers failed to protect their 18-year-old daughter from Mario Valentin, despite numerous warnings that he was a danger.

Valentin, 23, of Seattle, snuck into Fure’s bedroom May 24, 2004, shot her and then turned the gun on himself. Prior to her death, Fure had obtained a protection order against Valentin. She asked for the order after Valentin engaged in an armed standoff with Stanwood police and Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies.

He came to Fure’s work, sat in her car, held a gun to his head and threatened to shoot himself. He also threatened Fure after the standoff, according to court documents.

The lawsuit claimed that Stanwood police — who actually are sheriff’s deputies — downplayed the risk to Fure, who had broken off the two-year relationship a couple of months earlier. Officers failed to arrest Valentin even though they were aware that he stalked and threatened Fure and possessed a gun, according to court documents.

The lawsuit also alleged police followed a policy that diminished the importance of domestic violence against women. Stanwood police officers didn’t have the proper training or supervision to adequately address domestic violence crimes, according to the lawsuit.

Since the legal action was taken, the sheriff’s office has updated its domestic violence policies. With the settlement, deputies must complete comprehensive domestic violence training at least every two years beginning in 2009, Brenneke said.

Domestic violence detectives within the sheriff’s office also will expand their responsibilities to include Stanwood cases.

Rick Bart, who was sheriff at the time of Fure’s death, has said the domestic violence policy wasn’t as comprehensive as it could have been.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said the office did have a domestic violence policy and protocol in place at the time of Fure’s death.

“We’re always looking for ways to build on our current policies and procedures. That certainly applies to the issue of domestic violence, too,” Hover said. “Our partnership with Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County is strong and it’s going to continue to grow.”

Sheriff John Lovick said he’s long been committed to domestic violence prevention. He’s spoken at fundraising lunches and next week will continue his annual tradition of deep frying turkeys, in part as a benefit for Domestic Violence Services.

The young woman’s parents said they plan to give $80,000 to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which intends to use the money to develop a curriculum to teach teens about dating violence.

“They’re hoping to empower teens to recognize the signs of domestic violence and to take steps to protect themselves,” Brenneke said.

Another $20,000 will go to Kirkland-based Waterfund International, a group that provides medical relief to Mexico and other Central American countries. Fure went to Mexico in 2002 to help build a medical clinic and school.

“As a family, we would like to channel our daughter’s love for education and people into something rich, productive and full of life that will save others,” Hafner-Cottrell said in a statement. “We know that even when our loss has trampled our hearts and shattered our spirits, it is possible to rise from the ashes to embrace another life. This is what Dayna was all about: hope, love and opportunity.”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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