CCAW 2020: Pre-conference
Blueprint for Implementing Strangulation Practices & Protocols


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Sunday, May 17th
8:30 AM- 4:30 PM

This full-day pre-conference is designed to develop a community, statewide, and national response to asphyxiation crimes, including strangulation, suffocation, and aquatic assault. Felony statutes have passed nationally and internationally recognizing the lethality of asphyxiation and the risk posed by perpetrators. However, on-going systemic barriers have limited the value of these laws. Communities need evidence-based policies and protocols to guide efforts to effectively enforce these laws.

Law enforcement express that they rarely have guidance on how to collect credible evidence and prosecutors state that they rarely have the evidence needed to prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, many jurisdictions file one-fifth of the asphyxiation cases that should be charged and have dismissal rates around 50%, and the impact of these crimes on child abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder abuse, and homicide is often overlooked entirely. Practitioners regularly express a need for their agencies to fully invest in community-wide and agency-specific protocols to achieve a sustainable, informed, and accountable system.

From before the 911 call to the parole board, this training will provide a tool-kit of concrete steps for communities to achieve success by improving investigation, medical assessments, safety planning, and prosecution.

The second half of the day will include break-out sessions by discipline to discuss solutions to the specific barriers that each community partner might face.

  • Law enforcement will visit a mock crime scene
  • Prosecutors will practice voir dire and other challenges in trial
  • Medical attendees will walk through a forensic exam
  • Advocates will discuss strangulation-specific safety planning


The faculty will include forensic nurses, law enforcement, prosecutors, EMS, community and system-based advocates, judges, and survivors who are strangulation experts and have worked on the frontlines in their communities. Their unparalleled expertise provides a unique perspective that will give insight into real world challenges and solutions, from the classroom to the crime-scene and courtroom.

In addition to the primary faculty listed below, the lunchtime session will be hosted by Russell and Myra Strand. Other special speakers will include Tracy Matheson, the driving force behind new legislation in Texas, Molly Jane’s Law.

Kelsey McKay, JD
Kelsey McKay is the President of RESPOND Against Violence. She trains and consults nationally to implement protocols and strengthen how communities collaborate, investigate, and prosecute strangulation, sexual violence, and violent crime. Previously, Ms. McKay was a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas for 12 years and exclusively focused on asphyxiation cases for six years. She has handled a range of asphyxiation cases from misdemeanors to sexual assaults and capital murder. Ms. McKay is a highly sought-after national speaker who works with communities to improve their systematic response to violent and trauma-based crime.

Khara Breeden, DNP, MS, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, AFN-BC
Khara Breeden has been involved in forensic nursing for over eight years. Dr. Breeden currently serves on the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) board and the Texas Council of Family Violence (TCFV) policy committee for the 2019 legislative season. While collaborating with community partners, Dr. Breeden was challenged to aid in closing the gap in medical forensic services for victims of violence in Harris and surrounding counties. She set forth to develop a collaborative approach through the creation of Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners (TxFNE), where she serves as the Chief Executive Officer. TxFNE is a community-based forensic nursing program that currently serves 21 locations through Harris and surrounding counties and is continually seeking creative ways to improve outcomes for victims of violence.

Carvana Cloud, JD
Carvana is the Bureau Chief of the Special Victims Bureau of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, located in Houston, TX. In her current capacity, Carvana manages the prosecution of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and animal cruelty cases and is the first black female to be appointed to such a position in the history of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Carvana is a subject matter expert in the area of domestic violence and the establishment of coordinated community responses. Having formerly served as the Division Chief of the Family Criminal Law Division, Carvana recognizes that domestic violence in a significant crime driver in communities. Accordingly, she uses her expertise and collaborative leadership style to improve public safety by employing innovative prosecution strategies designed to ensure victim safety and enhanced offender accountability. Most notably, Carvana founded the Harris County Strangulation Taskforce to develop a countywide protocol for the investigation and prosecution of strangulation cases.

Detective Kimberly Orts
Detective Kimberly Orts has been serving with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years and has been assigned to the Family Violence Unit for the past 5 years. She primarily investigates the spectrum of crimes involving intimate partner violence. Her experience has ranged from working within the Corrections, Administrative, and Law Enforcement Bureaus to working two years as a full-time Mental Health Officer. Detective Orts also serves as team leader for the Crisis Negotiations Team, which she’s been involved in for the past 13 years. She has been an adjunct instructor since 2012 providing presentations on mental health, crisis negotiations, and family violence for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies throughout Texas. 

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