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Woman lives in fear after stalker's charges dismissed

Updated: 08/27/2014 10:08 PM | Created: 08/27/2014 9:46 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An Albuquerque woman and her teenage daughter have been ruthlessly stalked by a homeless man -- it's documented, and he's been told by police to stay away.

But each time Shayne Lewis goes before a judge on related, and even unrelated charges, they're dismissed because he's determined to be mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Elizabeth Sacco says she feels like a victim not only of her stalker, but of a system that keeps setting him free - free to terrorize her to the point her home has become a fortress, and she's always looking over her shoulder.

"Our stalker had been deemed incompetent," said Sacco. "Cases of stalking -- moments where he threatened to kill my child in front of me. All those things have just been dismissed."

The sound of a bell tells Sacco something's wrong.

There's one on every door in her southeast Albuquerque home, just in case. 

"Being fearful is a horrible way to live," she said.

Last winter, she called for a health and welfare check on a man named Shayne Lewis who was shivering in the cold.

He launched an all-out war on her, stalking her and threatening to kill her daughter.

A judge granted a restraining order, but when Lewis had a hearing on Wednesday, he was ruled incompetent to stand trial, and his charges were dismissed.

"What I'm hearing is, that if I'm mentally unstable I can do pretty much whatever I please to do and get away with it," said Sacco.

Sacco says her pain is every victim's pain, and it's the pain suffered by those who have nowhere to turn. Even people like Lewis.

"We're dealing with a population that is not being monitored, not being helped and not being serviced. My question is: What is fair?" she said.  

Certainly not this life, she said. Sacco carries a gun on her hip. 

There's no justice. It's created a darkness she's desperate to shine a light on, and she says she's doing the best she can.

"I'm so devastated, that I needed to paint my own sunshine," she said, gesturing to a painting of a smiling sun on her wall. 

Albuquerque-area state representative Liz Thompson said Wednesday the health and human services legislative subcommittee has endorsed a bill that would allow judges to make recommendations involving mental healthcare to people with behavioral health issues -- even before they offend.      

But treatment could not be involuntarily imposed under that law.

Shayne Lewis

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