Travis County District Attorney Launches Research Initiative Into Homicides Involving Couples

Honest Austin
2 min readOct 26, 2021


Travis County District Attorney José Garza (in purple mask) with Precinct 5 Constable Carlos B. Lopez (fourth from right), TCDA Special Victims Unit Director Erin Martinson (third from right), and members of the Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force, wearing purple to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office has announced a data and research partnership with Arizona State University and Johns Hopkins University as part of an effort to prevent and assess the risk of homicide in cases of intimate partner violence.

According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, about one in five women have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Data from U.S. crime reports suggest that over half of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by a current or former male intimate partner.

“Intimate partner” in this context refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners.

“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent intimate partner homicides in our community,” said Erin Martinson, Director of the Travis County DA’s Special Victims Unit.

“This partnership will allow us to identify risk factors that most often lead to intimate partner homicide and to intervene in high-risk cases.”

According to a press release from the District Attorney’s Office, the study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is led by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, Dr. Jill Messing, and Dr. Jesenia Pizarro. Dr. Campbell previously led a study that informed the creation of domestic violence risk assessment tools used nationally, including in Travis County.

The out-of-state researchers will be supported by a team of researchers at Texas universities. The research aims to inform the work of a “high-risk” team of prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office, which seeks to intervene in cases where a partner is at high-risk for homicide, according to the news release.

The District Attorney’s Office says the research project is endorsed by the Texas Council on Family Violence and the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston University.

The announcement comes six months after a triple homicide in Austin involving a suspect who killed his ex-wife, stepdaughter, and the stepdaughter’s boyfriend, and within a week of a double-murder-suicide involving a man killed his wife and their six-year-old boy.

The announcement also coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Originally published at on October 26, 2021.



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