A report released Tuesday shows fewer women in Minnesota were killed in acts of domestic violence last year, but the number of children killed by family members was up.
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, which publishes the annual report, says at least a dozen women were killed by their husbands, boyfriends or intimate partners last year. In 2008, the number was 23.
But the coalition's programming director, Liz Richards, said the decrease from one year to the next may not be significant.
"Over this 20-some years, we've seen the numbers dip up and dip down," Richards said. "And so while we'd like to think this might be a trend in terms of a reduction in homicides, we can't say that."
Richards notes that in January alone, there were at least three additional domestic homicides in the state.
Richards said the deaths are still a cause for concern because the warning signs were missed.
"Things like, 'Was the victim leaving, or had she already left?' And in 67 percent of the cases, women had already left or were in the process of leaving when the homicide occurred," she said.
Richards said half of the murders tracked by her office last year involved prior abuse.
Advocates for victims of domestic violence say they will push for a number of policy changes during the legislative session, such as strengthening orders for protection and a statute on stalking.
One measure calls for increasing the maximum bail that the courts can set in some cases of domestic violence, but critics say higher bail amounts aren't justified when used on defendants who don't pose a flight risk.