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by Mike Straw

In December 2000 in Las Vegas Nevada, Marina Cannon, forty-nine, was murdered by her husband, Vitaly Zakouto, fifty-four. Case closed? Not hardly. Marina was subjected to seven months of terror and domestic violence at Zakouto's hands so bad that Cannon repeatedly predicted he would kill her.

By November 2000, frustrated Family Court judge Arthur Ritchie Junior had already thrown Zakouto in jail at least twice for contempt. During the appearance, Cannon told the judge that Zakouto was going to kill her. "You have to stop him. If you don't stop him, the outcome of this is preordained. He can't stop himself. ... he's angry," she said.

Judge Ritchie told Cannon that unfortunately, the allegations of contempt that were before him weren’t based on documented, independent evidence. The Family Court system can only do so much when an individual like Zakouto is intent on ignoring judicial warnings to stay away from his victim. "No court will protect you. That's the bottom line. The court will issue orders that attempt and try to protect you, but if someone is engaging in criminal conduct with disregard for the court's orders, there's nothing I can do for you. You have to protect yourself in any way you can. I've entered every order that I can prohibiting him from contact," Ritchie said.

Zakouto was convicted of first-degree murder. During the sentencing hearing Marina 's will was read: "If I have died under suspicious circumstances, Vitaly did it. In the event I am murdered... Tell the world what happened to me.” At the time of Cannon's murder, a criminal stalking charge was pending against Zakouto. Clark County prosecutor Ed Kane acknowledged in Zakouto's case that "the system that I'm a part of let her down."

Judge Ritchie didn’t return a phone call left on the answering machine of a judicial assistant in his office. So what’s the answer? Take judge Ritchie’s advice: be responsible for your own safety. First, read Lieutenant Colonel “Jeff” Cooper’s “The Principles of Personal Defense,” then “Jim Grover’s” “Street Smarts,” to point you in the right direction. Read “The Truth About Self-Protection,” and “In The Gravest Extreme,” by Massad Ayoob.

Take the “Refuse to Be a Victim” course to open your eyes that you have options, the take the “Basics of Personal Protection in the Home” course to learn the nuts and bolts of how to do it. Listen to the advice of experts:

“There are no victims, only volunteers.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.” - Susan B. Anthony

“Even in the best and most peacefully civilized countries many occasions arise when a woman versed in the knowledge and use of firearms may find that information and skill of great importance.” - Annie Oakley

The only way to live is in that state of awareness and training that allow us to move through life with the confidence to know that any threat is, in the words of Lieutenant Colonel “Jeff” Cooper, “…in more in danger from you than you are from him.”

The alternative is to be another Marina Cannon.

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