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Perils of teen dating: Phoenix mom fights for victims after daughter killed

Kaity Sudberry (Screenshot/Kaity's Way)

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This is the third in a four-part special series from KTAR News 92.3 FM about the perils of teen dating. Read part one here and part two here.

PHOENIX – Kaity Sudberry was 17 when she and her parents went to court to ask for protection. She had broken up with her boyfriend, and he had threatened to kill her.

They tried to get an order of protection but she didn’t qualify for one under the law at the time. So they got an injunction against harassment instead. It barred her ex-boyfriend from contacting her.

But five days after they had gone to court, the unthinkable happened.

“He took our daughter’s life and then his own,” said Bobbi Sudberry, Kaity’s mother.

Kaity died outside her Phoenix home on Jan. 28, 2008.

Several months later, a bill named after her passed in the Arizona State Legislature to extend domestic violence protections to those in dating relationships.

This allowed victims who are or were previously in a romantic or sexual relationship with someone to get orders of protection. Law enforcement can also make arrests and confiscate firearms.

These measures were previously limited to those who are married, live together or have a child together.

In addition to helping get Kaity’s Law passed, Sudberry formed an organization called Kaity’s Way to help teens in abusive relationships.

She also visits schools and tells her daughter’s story, which began in December 2006 when Kaity started dating Daniel Byrd.

“After a few months, he started showing some real serious possessive and jealousy traits,” Sudberry said. “He would text her all the time wanting to know where she was, what she was doing and who she was with.”

She helped her daughter understand that, that behavior was not appropriate and that she didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Kaity broke up with him but got back together after he threatened to commit suicide.

In late December 2007, Kaity called it off for good.

“We didn’t understand that the most dangerous time for a victim in an abusive relationship is when that relationship is ending,” Sudberry said.

Within a month after the breakup, Byrd assaulted Kaity several times and threatened to kill her. Weeks later she was walking home from school.

“He came up from behind her. There was a brief altercation, and she took off and tried to run to the neighbor’s house,” Sudberry said. “She tried to get over the fence, and he proceeded to pull her down off the fence. That’s when he pulled out a shotgun.”

Byrd shot Kaity and then turned the gun on himself.

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said this should’ve never happened and said she feels for parents like Sudberry.

“I can certainly imagine how helpless it would feel as a parent to see your child be victimized,” she said.

Adel said she recommends teens in abusive relationships to seek orders of protection, which forbids abusers from having any contact with victims.

These orders have to be renewed every year. Adel said it’s set up that way so that accusers can have due process.

“We want to make sure that people aren’t misusing the process, as well,” she said. “It is traumatic, though, to have to relive this every single year, and then make sure that, that person who victimized you is served with that warrant and that they stay away.”

She added victims can now start the process to get an order of protection online through the Arizona Protective Order Initiative and Notification Tool, or AZPOINT.

If you’re a teen in an abusive relationship or know one who is, you can call or text bloom365 at 888-606-HOPE (4673) or Teen Lifeline at 602-248-TEEN (8336). You can also call the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline at 866-331-9474.

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