Slain woman warned judge: ‘I fear for my life'

by: Craig Lucie Updated:


COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A woman whom police believe was murdered by her ex-husband previously warned a judge that he would kill her.

The victim believed her ex-husband would attack her when he was released from prison. She even asked to have her words: “I fear for my life,” on the record.

Channel 2’s Craig Lucie was there when suspect John Kristofak faced a judge at the Cobb County Jail on Thursday night, and was denied bond. Kristofak is also facing additional charges for violating his probation after he pleaded guilty in October to aggravated stalking and battery charges against his wife, Donna Kristofak.

Allison Smith, with the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, read through the transcript of Donna Kristofak’s words to another Cobb County judge on Oct. 12.
“Wow! That’s incredible! She clearly told the judge that she was in fear for her life, and she wanted that on the record,” said Smith.

Donna Kristofak told Judge Adele Grubbs that the temporary protective order she had against her husband didn’t keep him away the night he was arrested for aggravated stalking.

The transcript reads as follows:
Judge Adele Grubbs: "If he violates the order in this case, he gets picked up by the probation violation and put in jail immediately.”

Donna Kristofak: “Yes, your Honor, I respect that and thank you for that. My fear is that I may not survive that.”

Judge Grubbs: “I understand.”

Donna Kristofak: “I fear for my life.”

Judge Grubbs:  “I can’t tell you with 100 percent, I’d be lying to you, and I am sorry you are in that position. But whatever I do, you can go out and you’ve got that risk, but you will have that (Pause) copy of the protective order, so the minute you get nervous about anything you call the police. It’s as close as we can get to 100 percent.”

Donna Kristofak: “Thank you, your honor. May I ask, your honor, that it is on the record that I fear for my life?”

Judge Grubbs: “It is on the record.”

Grubbs has since declined to discuss the matter, saying in a statement to Lucie, “I am not allowed to comment on pending cases, and therefore cannot comment on the Kristofak matter.”

Smith said Kristofak did everything right in her explanation to the judge.

“It’s unfortunate. We would obviously like to see more jail time and higher bond conditions,” Smith said, adding that she does not know all the specifics of this particular case.

She said had she heard those words, she would have certainly had a private conversation with Donna Kristofak and told her to consider going into hiding. Lucie asked if the Temporary Protective Orders give women some security.

Smith said in some cases they do, but when a man has been arrested for aggravated stalking and making the type of threats that police say John Kristofak made, going into hiding is sometimes the best option.

“You may need to consider the option of moving to a place where you can’t be found. It is unfair, but that is something to consider when someone who is clearly not getting the message,” Smith told Lucie.

Smith said she hopes those in power will take a closer look at this case and learn from it.

“We’d love to see higher bonds with stay away conditions, so it’s made clear that the criminal justice system takes this seriously,” Smith explained.

Lucie also spoke with Meagan Fulmer, who is the president and CEO of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence. She shared these statistics about domestic violence.

- Georgia ranks 10th in the nation for states where men kill women.

- One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

- On average, more than three women are murdered each day by their boyfriends or husbands in the United States.

Victims of domestic violence are asked to call the 24-hour statewide hotline at 1-800-334-2836 for help.