Effectiveness of orders of protection questioned after recent kidnapping, bi-state chase

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Danielle Smith had an order of protection against Leslie Austin. That didn’t stop him.

According to authorities, Smith and a 10-year-old girl were allegedly kidnapped Tuesday night at a Jefferson City apartment complex. Their kidnapper, the 39-year-old Austin, is said to have shot Smith several times and led police on a bi-state chase. Said chase ended with Austin and an innocent bystander dead.

Do orders of protection work and what can be done to ensure they do?

Court records show a protection order was filed against Austin on February 7. He no-showed the court date.

Attorney Gina Tocco of Tocco, Connelly & Associates, who has worked in family law for decades, said orders such as these are just one layer of protection.

“Unfortunately, the people that are going to be deterred by those orders of protection are not usually the people that need them,” Tocco said.

Smith and girl were able to get away but Austin shot her and killed 67-year-old Gregory Price, a man who he tried to carjack.

Austin was found dead after a shootout with police in Illinois.

St. Louis County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chelsea Draper said orders of protection, while not perfect, are still needed.

“It may not keep the suspect or defendant at bay but there's a record of everything that happens, so when they violate a protection order, police get called and they make a record of the interaction,” she said.

Tocco said victims, especially those in domestic violence situations, need the opportunity to be protected and that protection orders need to be enforced.

“Sometimes they protect victims and sometimes they add more fuel to a fire that’s already existing between the parties,” she said.

Draper said she believes an order is a good, solid start but isn’t sure anymore can be done at that stage.

“I honestly don’t see anything that can be put in place that wouldn’t constitute a constitutional violation,” she said.

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