Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and his wife, Giselle, show support for Alina’s Light during the Walk & Run for Love event at Settler’s Cabin Park last month.
By Jamie Wiggan
Four years after Alina Sheykhet was brutally murdered by a former boyfriend in October 2017, her family is still fighting to pass new laws that would strengthen restraining orders and possibly prevent similar recurrences.
With support from friends and community, Sheykhet’s parents Yan and Elly founded the Alina’s Light organization shortly after her death to advocate for domestic violence prevention and other causes that honor her memory.
A focal point of the group’s efforts has been pushing a state bill that would require Protection From Abuse (PFA) defendants to wear an electronic device monitoring their location at all times. Sheykhet’s killer, Matthew Darby, had been served with a PFA just days before he broke into her apartment and killed her, leading her parents and their supporters to argue the provisions are ineffective as they currently stand.
Efforts to pass new laws have been held up in legislative quagmire, however.
State Rep. Anita Kulik (D-45) initially passed a bill in 2020 but it has never emerged from the judiciary committee.
She said the committee has simply sat on the bill without issuing feedback or suggesting a path forward.
“I have no idea why they don’t want it,” Kulik said. “I believe it is uncontroversial and I believe it is something that will save lives.”
Kulik is now putting more stock in a Senate bill introduced by Minority Leader Jay Costa that she hopes will soon land on the house floor.
While legislative progress has been slow, Alina’s Light has continued to raise awareness and push for the legal reforms. On Oct. 8, more than 275 community members turned out to a run/walk event at Settler’s Cabin Park to show their support for Alina’s Light.
Public officials including Common Pleas Judge David Spurgeon and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman along with his wife Gisele.
Kulik, who also attended, hopes there’s a way forward for either of the bills awaiting votes.
“Quite frankly I don’t care which gets out of the committee as long as it gets out of committee,” she said. “We’re gonna keep pushing, we’re not gonna let go of this.”