For more than a decade, Long Vang mentally, verbally, emotionally and physically abused his partner, the Olmsted County Attorney's Office says.
In May of last year, he punched her – the mother of his two children – so hard she suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to charges filed against him.
She began receiving mental health treatment. But seven months later she took her own life.
Now, the 34-year-old Vang is facing murder charges.
The Stewartville man was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter – along with a pattern of stalking charge – in connection with the death of his partner, after the Olmsted County Attorney's Office says his treatment of his partner led to her death.
"I believe Mr. Vang’s conduct directly contributed to the death of his partner," Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said in a news release. "Mr. Vang was clearly aware of the precarious state of his partner’s emotions following her hospitalizations and he continued the relentless contacts until her death."
These types of charges could be a first
Ostrem told BringMeTheNews it's the first time this type of charge has been brought in Olmsted County.
It could also be a first in the state.
Becky Smith, the program manager at the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, told BringMeTheNews Tuesday they believe it's the first time a county attorney in Minnesota has brought charges of this capacity in a case like this.
However, this isn't something that's tracked statewide, said Kyle Christopherson, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Judicial Branch.
In the days leading up to her death, the victim told a social worker Vang had "killed her" and was at a loss as to what she should do, the charges against him say.
The 28-year-old victim's mental health "declined significantly" in the months before she killed herself, "as a result of years of domestic abuse and a traumatic brain injury."
The traumatic brain injury came in May 2015, when Vang punched the victim so hard she suffered confusion, disorganization, difficulty concentrating, headaches, dizziness and nausea.
In the months leading up to her death, the victim was receiving mental health treatments. But Vang had pressured her to leave treatment and go back to work. During her last hospitalization on Dec. 10, 2015, she asked to leave and was discharged three days later.
She took her own life on Dec. 16, 2015.
In an interview with investigators, Vang said he was aware she made "a number of suicide attempts" before she killed herself. He's also accused of violating a no-contact order.
Vang made his first court appearance Monday, where he was held on $100,000 bail, with conditions, according to court records.
Domestic violence in Minnesota
An estimated 6,000 women kill themselves every year, and the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative says research suggests a "significant number" of them do so "because of their violent victimization at the hands of an intimate male partner."
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women and the Minnesota Department of Health worked together to review three years of information. They found there is a "significant correlation" between adult women who killed themselves, and those women being victims of domestic violence, Smith told BringMeTheNews.
It wasn't official research, but Smith called it an "issue of concern."
The coalition is focused on finding patterns in domestic violence over time in an effort to end violence against women, Smith said. She called the charges against Vang "significant" and a "good step."
So far this year, nine women have been killed in suspected domestic violence situations, Smith told BringMeTheNews.
In 2015, 34 people were killed in domestic violence incidents in Minnesota – including 22 women who were killed by their partner, three men, and nine bystanders or children, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women's annual Femicide report shows.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence – whether it's physical, financial or emotional – you're encouraged to call the 24-hour hotline 1-866-223-1111 to be connected to the network of community programs available in Minnesota.