Lori McConnell's daughter is campaigning to have violent-crime suspects held 24 to 48 hours before being allowed to post bail

WATERLOO — A month ago Lora Bennett's mother, Lori McConnell, was killed in an ambush in Waterloo, Seneca County.

Emerson Tohafjian has been charged with her murder and awaits trial — but even before a jury decides his fate, Bennett wants her mother's death to mean something to other victims of domestic violence.

Bennett says McConnell didn't want to live in fear of Tohafjian, but she did.

"Every time she tried to leave him, her fear to us was he was going to kill her," said Bennett. "She had basically been kidnapped by him, raped by him and he kept telling her 'I'm going to kill you, I have to kill you this time.'"

Bennett says a month before her death, McConnell suffered a terrible beating. She says her mother finally got the courage to press charges and move out of the mobile home she shared with him.

But Bennett says within a short time, he was arraigned and back out terrorizing her mother as she packed her clothes.

"He was only in there for half hour or so. Half hour doesn't give you much time to get away ... get your things, get your children. Sometimes there's children involved in this. Sometimes you need a little time to just pack up and go," said Bennett.

She is now campaigning to change the law to hold defendants accused of violent crimes 24 to 48 hours before they can post bail.

She has talked with State Senator Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, and she's working to get the support of domestic violence advocates.

"If he had been locked away for those 24 hours, my mom would have been able to go there with some peace and gotten out and he wouldn't have know where she was," Bennett said.

Despite her staying with friends and relatives, Bennett says Tohafjian stalked her mother and was able to catch up with her on July 10, the night police say he ambushed McConnell, Chuck Andrus and Karen Zdunko at the apartment. McConnell and Andrus were killed, Zdunko seriously injured.

Does Bennett feel the system failed her mom?

"At the end of the day, I believe that Emerson Tohafjian is the one that failed my mom," she said. "He's the one who pulled the trigger."