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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Proposed change in stalker law would have allowed protection order in recent North End shooting case

Makaela Zabel-Gravatt, a Boise cosmetologist, twice sought a protection order against a former client who was stalking her, according to news reports, but was rejected because Idaho law allows such orders only against a spouse, relative or current or former romantic partner. A week and a half ago, the ex-client, Christopher Wirfs, went to the salon where Zabel-Gravatt works after threatening her by phone and was turned away; then, he went to her home and shot her twice in her North End backyard. She suffered serious injuries and is now recovering after being released from the hospital; Wirfs is being held in the Ada County Jail on two felony charges.

Now, Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, is proposing legislation to expand Idaho’s protection order statute to cover those who haven’t been in a domestic relationship with their stalker.  “I’ve been working on this bill for over a year and I believe that there is a clear need for stronger protections against people who break the law by stalking or harassing others,” Burgoyne said. “Stalking and harassment are not limited to domestic relationships and the law needs to recognize this fact.”

Burgoyne called the recent shooting in Boise a “tragic” incident that highlights the need to change the law. “Of course, no law can stop all stalkers and harassers, but my bill will put these lawbreakers on the radar of law enforcement and the justice system, and give the police and judges leverage in dealing with them,” said Burgoyne, an attorney who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he’s working with representatives of various advocacy and legal groups to ensure the bill can pass in the legislative session that starts in January.

KTVB-TV reports that friends and supporters of Zabel-Gravatt have started a GoFundMe page to help with her medical bills.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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