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Colorado's domestic violence-related deaths that never made the national spotlight in 2018

While the nation focused on every detail of Kelsey Berreth and Shanann Watts, there were more than 30 other domestic violence-related deaths in Colorado.

DENVER — Every year, DoraLee Larson takes a look at the domestic violence-related deaths across Colorado, and every year she notices the names that never made the spotlight. 

In 2018, the deaths of Kelsey Berreth and Shanann Watts and her kids were the subject of dozens of stories by local and national media. 

While Larson, the executive director of the Denver Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, doesn't want to diminish that coverage, she wants more coverage for the other victims too. 

“I think that society still participates in a high level of victim blaming," Larson said. "And society drives what people pay attention to, and so I think it’s a race, class [and] ethnicity issue." 

Larson is a part of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team. She helps compile lists of domestic violence-related crimes in the state. 

"It seems to stay around 40," she said of the number of victims each year. 

While the 2018 list is still preliminary, there are 38 names on it so far. The numbers were first reported by the Denver Post.

It includes Berreth and Watts, but also listed are names that were only covered once or twice by local newsrooms and papers, and almost never by national media. 

Names like Clarissa Wilkens, whose husband was arrested for killing her after police said he lied and told them she killed herself. 

Names like Deborah DePinto who police say her partner killed in the laundry room of a trailer park office after she told him she didn't want to be with him. 

Names like Kimberly Ambrose who called 911 and said she was being assaulted and held against her will in a car, but the man driving crashed and killed her. 

Larson says there is a tendency for society to assume a domestic violence victim isn't blameless if they are not a white and seemingly affluent person. 

"It's not her, it's not the weather, it's not the law enforcement, it's not the media," she said. "It's the perpetrator, period. We need more education."

The fatality review list also includes deaths from suicide by someone trying to escape an abusive relationship, suicide by the perpetrator to try to make the victim feel like it was their fault and death by law enforcement responding to a domestic violence incident. That includes fallen Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm. 

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