Stewartville man charged with murder; Attorney says abuse led to partner’s suicide

Published 10:40 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

ROCHESTER — A Minnesota man has been charged with murder for allegedly contributing to his partner’s suicide by physically and emotionally abusing her for years.

Long Vang, 34, of Stewartville, is charged in Olmsted County District Court with third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and stalking. County Attorney Mark Ostrem says Vang’s conduct directly contributed to the December suicide of Jessica Haban.

Sheriff’s investigators say Haban was subjected to increasing levels of domestic abuse and suffered a traumatic brain injury about six months before she died, the Post-Bulletin of Rochester reported. Haban, 28, received in-patient mental health treatment in the months before her death. Prosecutors allege that Vang pressured her to leave treatment, which she did three days before her suicide at home.

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Executive director Liz Richards of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Woman said it’s the first case in Minnesota that her organization is aware of “where a prosecutor actually charged when it’s clearly been ruled a suicide.”

Vang appeared in court Monday and remains in jail. A call left at the public defender’s office by The Associated Press for comment was not immediately returned Wednesday.

“There is finally going to be some justice for Jessica,” Haban’s mother, Rita Prinzing, said.

“While we know that it won’t bring her back, he will be held accountable,” Prinzing told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Vang and Haban were “culturally married,” according to her obituary, and had two children together. The charges were filed after authorities investigated the couple’s 11-year relationship, Olmsted County sheriff’s Sgt. Kirby Long said.

Early on May 11, 2015, Haban called 911 to report Vang was throwing things at her. A deputy found Vang hiding behind a vehicle near the garage. Haban said he had overturned a coffee table and used it to restrain her on a couch. When she tried to call police, Vang broke the phone.

A no-contact order was issued against Vang in August, but a witness told law enforcement in November that Vang was contacting Haban. According to the complaint, the woman “was concerned for (Haban’s) safety and well-being, and expressed fear that Vang would seriously injure or kill” Haban.

Haban told officers that Vang had been calling and texting her nearly daily. Haban told a deputy “the abuse and surrounding circumstances were beginning to exact a significant mental toll,” court documents say.

During a meeting with a social worker Dec. 7, Haban said she felt like Vang had “killed her” and she was at a loss as to what to do, according to the complaint. The social worker learned that Vang had been “pressuring (Haban) to leave treatment and go back to work,” threatening that she would lose custody of their children if she stayed, the complaint said.

Haban called the social worker on Dec. 10 and asked to leave treatment. Haban killed herself six days later.