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Lexington's latest murder shines light on domestic violence

Karina Gutierrez, 38, died before 1 a.m. Monday at UK hospital. The coroner lists her cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - On Monday, police arrested Jose Rivera after he was accused of beating his wife to death with a baseball bat.

Karina Gutierrez, 38, died before 1 a.m. Monday at UK hospital. The coroner lists her cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.

ORIGINAL STORY: Lexington man accused of beating wife to death with bat

Fox 56 learned through court records, Gutierrez separated from Rivera in July 2015 filing a domestic violence order in January 2016.

"I think no matter how long you've done this work, it always sort of takes your breath," said Diane Fleet, Assistant Director of GreenHouse17.

GreenHouse17 is a group which works directly with those affected by domestic violence. Fleet said in some cases, protective orders are not enough, which is why their organization offers resources such as an emergency shelter, crisis hotline, and individual safety planning.

"It's almost like you have a fire drill," Fleet said. "What do you do when this happens? How do you make sure you are safe when you are getting to work, getting to school, in your home?"

In the petition for an order of protection, Gutierrez explains after their separation, Rivera stalked her and sent her threatening messages. She said, "I am terrified of what my husband can do to me or my children."

Gutierrez claimed Rivera once slashed her car tires at a party because she was not answering her phone. Fleet said this behavior is something to look out for.

"I think a lot of folks think there has to be a lot of physical violence, but we really define it in terms of a controlling behavior," Fleet said.

In turn, a victim of violence may also demonstrate a change in behavior like withdrawing from loved ones or suddenly showing up to work late or not at all.

In honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Fleet encourages people to start having these conversations with the people they love.

"The more people I think talk about it and hear about, the more survivors are apt to reach out and say, I need help too," she said.

The 24-hour crisis line can be reached at (800) 544-2022.

Family members of Karina Gutierrez set up a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, CLICK HERE.

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