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Archive for Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hostage drama besets family of murder victim

February 22, 2009

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— Just hours after a sentencing hearing for the man who abused and killed his daughter, a man was among a group held hostage at a Hutchinson lawyer’s office while counseling another alleged abuse victim.

On Thursday, Rod Martin was in Reno County Court when Stephen W. Jones Sr., 30, was sentenced to life in prison for killing Martin’s daughter, Sabrina Jones, 30, on Christmas Eve.

Prosecutors and family members said Sabrina Jones endured years of abuse from her husband before she died.

Immediately after the hearing, Martin, his stepdaughter, Sandi Bishop, and son-in-law, Gary Bishop, were at the law firm of attorney David Holmes, counseling another woman trying to leave her estranged husband. They were accompanied by two volunteers from a Kansas City-based domestic violence advocacy group.

The group was talking to Delorah Cunningham about her options in leaving her husband, Nathan Cunningham. Delorah Cunningham had filed for divorce and obtained a protection from abuse order against her husband Wednesday.

During the meeting, Nathan Cunningham ran into the office, brandishing a handgun, and ordered everyone to leave.

The hostages were released unharmed within an hour. Gary Bishop and the two volunteers left the building, but Sandi Bishop refused to leave Delorah Cunningham alone with Nathan Cunningham. When Nathan Cunningham became distracted and put down his gun, Sandi Bishop grabbed Delorah and the two were able to leave the building.

“I could’ve very well lost another daughter that day,” Martin said.

Nathan Cunningham was charged Friday with several counts, including kidnapping. He is being held on $500,000 bond and his attorney is requesting a mental evaluation.

His attorney, Janis Knox, says Cunningham planned to kill himself in front of his estranged wife, who works in the office.

After the ordeal, Martin, a retired firefighter and paramedic, said he wants to use his experience to help abuse victims and their families.

“This has impacted our family so much and I just think that people, the police, the court systems need to be more aware this is getting way out of control,” he said. “I’ve been in this for over 32 years now, and I don’t understand why there is so much violent behavior between a man and a woman.”

He urged women who are in abusive relationships to get out before it’s too late. “I want them to understand what it is like when they don’t leave, what happens when they are killed,” he said. “It affects their family. It affects their fathers. It affects everybody.”

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