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Victim Information and Notification Everyday (V.I.N.E.)
The Nolan County Sheriff's Office is a participant in the Texas VINE program, a free and anonymous statewide service available in English and Spanish that is sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Governor and local county officials.

VINE, an acronym for Victim Information and Notification Everyday, was incorporated in 1994 after the Jefferson County murder of Mary Byron.

On December 6, 1993, Mary Byron was shot six times at point-blank range by Donavan Harris, a former boyfriend who had been released from jail earlier in the day. Donavan was out on bail and facing trial on charges of kidnapping and for raping Mary. Donavan bought a gun and waited for Mary as she left work; it was her 21st birthday. Mary had no way to know that Donavan had been released from jail, no notification. Out of community outrage grew her legacy.

Today, VINE is in place to protect victims of crimes from offenders, by monitoring the custody status, as well as basic district case/court information and making it available 24 hours a day, 365 days year. Texas VINE allows you to register for automatic notification of any changes in an offender's custody status. If an offender is transferred from one facility to another, escapes, or is released from custody, the system will automatically notify victims of crime, victim advocates, and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of providing notification when changes occur to an offender's custody status.

You may need to register separately for each type of notification. Register by phone at 1.877.894.8463, TTY 1.866.847.1298 or online at www.vinelink.com.

Registering for Notification

When you register for notification, you will need to know the Offender ID or the Offender's First and Last Name. You will then be required to provide the following:
  1. E-mail, TTY (Teletypewriter) or Phone number(s) where you wish to be notified.
    Register as many numbers as you like, including your home and work phone.

    Do not register a phone that is answered by a receptionist or switch board.
  2. Four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number).
    Use the PIN you already have chosen. You may use the same PIN with each phone number you register.

Receiving a Notification Call

Texas VINE will automatically notify registered persons of suspect/offender status and court event changes. To confirm that you have received the notification, enter your four-digit PIN. Texas VINE will keep calling for 24 hours until this PIN is entered.

Texas VINE automatically notifies registered users in English or Spanish whenever one of the following situations occurs:

  1. the suspect/offender is released, is pending release (for sentenced offender's with scheduled release dates), or transferred to a facility in another county or state prison
  2. a court event has been set or changed
  3. there is a change in custody status such as death or escape.
  4. Emergency funds not to exceed $1,500.00 in order to qualify for the Crime Victim Compensation:

While Texas VINE is a valuable informational tool, it isn't a guarantee of safety. Please maintain contact with your local law enforcement and prosecutor's offices.

The Mary Byron Story

The first bullet was fatal, but the gunman squeezed the trigger on his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun six more times. Mary Francis Byron slumped in her seat after work on Monday - dead on her 21st birthday. "She probably never knew what hit her," Norm Mayer, chief of the St. Matthews Police Department, said yesterday. She never even knew, a family member said in an interview, that the alleged gunman - Donavan Harris, who was already charged with kidnapping and raping her at gunpoint less than three weeks ago - had been released on bond from jail.

Harris was arrested Nov. 19, charged with holding Byron at gunpoint for more than three hours and forcing her to have sex with him. The arrest slip called Harris her former boyfriend. Harris had been stalking Byron for some time before the rape, Mayer said. Jeffersontown police said they had no record of complaints of stalking. Harris, 24, was charged with rape, kidnapping and sexual abuse. The gun was confiscated. His bond was set at $26,000, and Circuit Judge William McAnutley declined to reduce it.

Up to that point, said Helen Kinton, president of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, the system was working perfectly. But then on Dec. 1, Harris' sister, Tonia Landherr, posted his bond. Harris got another gun. And now he is being held for Byron's murder. No one told Byron, her family, the police or even the prosecutors in the case that Harris was out of jail. She never knew she was in danger.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balliet, who prepared the grand jury case last week, said "it was news to me" that bond had been posted for Donavan Harris. "I was shocked to see Mary Byron's name as the person he shot," Balliet said. "It's so sad.' Kinton said, "The system should flag domestic-violence perpetrators when they come in jail,so they will be aware there's a corresponding victim out there who will know that the minute he gets out, her life is in danger."

Sherry Currens, executive director of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, has been pushing for notification laws for some time but has gotten only lukewarm support. "The problem is the practicality of it," Currens said. Most domestic-violence perpetrators are held in local jails, so state officials have little control over them." Still, Currens and Kinton think a new state law should require that victims be notified when their assailants make bond. Across Kentucky, just in the past two weeks, four women have been killed in domestic-violence cases. "It clearly could be done and it needs to be done," Currens said.

When Byron left her job as a hairdresser at J.C. Penney in the mall St. Mathews, Harris was waiting, police said. As she warmed up her car in the cold night air about 8:45 p.m., Harris fired into the car, police said. The first shot shattered the driver's side window, and Byron's assailant moved even closer. Bullets fired at close range crashed into her side, her shoulder and her neck.

Reprinted from: The Courier-Journal

Nolan County Sheriff's Office

Sweetwater, Nolan County, Texas 79556
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