A man in Minnesota has been charged by a county prosecutor with murder after his ex-girlfriend committed suicide, according to a report from People. Allegedly, Long Vang, 34, stalked and harassed Jessica Damian Haban, 28, until she felt compelled to take her own life. Haban and Vang had two children together over the course of their near-11-year relationship.
The charges were laid by Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem, who indicated that he was aware that the charges might be unprecedented; not only in Minnesota, but in general.
“We have put a lot more scrutiny into charging this than in a typical case,” he said. “We know there are going to be some challenges and some questions. We plan to have our ducks in a row.”
Officially, Vang faces charges of third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and stalking. He has not yet entered a plea.
When announcing the charges, Ostrem’s office stated that “Mr. Vang subjected his partner to ever-increasing levels of domestic abuse. The abuse was verbal, emotional, mental, and physical… In May 2015, Mr. Vang’s abuse resulted in a traumatic brain injury to his partner.”
“Ultimately his partner took her own life to escape the relationship.”
Getting the murder charge to stick won’t be easy. Third-degree murder, also known as voluntary manslaughter in some cases, still requires that the court prove an intention to kill.
“I believe Mr. Vang’s conduct directly contributed to the death of his partner. Mr. Vang was clearly aware of the precarious state of his partner’s emotions following her hospitalizations and he continued his relentless contacts until her death,” Ostrem said, in a statement. But it will be difficult to convince a judge that this indicated an active intent to kill.
According to the Star Tribune, the prosecution’s position is predicated entirely on the idea that Vang abused Haban until she lost her will to live.
Haban grew up in Rochester, graduating from John Marshall High School in 2006. According to her obituary, she and Vang were “culturally married” in 2010. Her mother, Rita Prinzing, said that Haban had recently graduated cosmetology school, and was balancing “taking care of the kids, working and going to school. … She was amazing.”
“[The charges] mean there is finally going to be some justice for Jessica. While we know that it won’t bring her back, he will be held accountable.”