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'A Heartbroken Mother': Murdered Pitt Student's Family Gathers In Harrisburg To Push For PFA Reform

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- The family of a murdered University of Pittsburgh student is visiting Harrisburg today for a mission that they hope will save lives.

Alina Sheykhet, 20, was bludgeoned to death in her apartment in Oakland in October of 2017.

Her ex-boyfriend, Matthew Darby, pleaded guilty in 2018 to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison for her death.

Investigators say he used a clawhammer and two knives from Alina's own basement and kitchen to beat her in a bedroom of her home on Cable Avenue. Investigators also found surveillance video of Darby in the neighborhood the night of the murder.

Since her death, Alina's parents have been working to get stronger legislation passed on Protection From Abuse Orders, which their daughter sought against Darby before her death. The PFA wasn't granted until three days before Alina's death.

"As of right now, a PFA is just a piece of paper. Nothing. That piece of paper couldn't save Alina," said Alina's mother, Elly Sheykhet.

The reason for their trip on Tuesday is to advocate for Alina's Law, which would allow judges to decide whether the subject of a PFA should be required to wear an electronic monitoring device.

The judge assigned to the case would decide who would wear the device on a case-by-case basis. The device wouldn't track a defendant 24/7. Only if the defendant violates a PFA.

About 20 family members and friends, dressed in purple, gathered Tuesday morning in Robinson Township, boarded buses and traveled to Harrisburg together.

Once there, they met up with state Rep. Anita Kulik for a "Putting a Stop to Domestic Violence Rally."

Elly spoke at the rally while her father, Yan, held up a photo of his beloved daughter.

"She was 20. She was my child," said Yan.

"You do have the power to change the broken system and save lives," Elly said. "This is why I'm asking for your help. As a heartbroken mother, I'm asking you to help save victims. I could not save my daughter, but you can save yours."

Rep. Kulik is the lawmaker who re-introduced Alina's Law last year.

On Twitter, she says: "Victims should not have to live in fear while they wait for a court date. Alina's Law will prevent senseless deaths at the hands of dangerous abusers."

Currently, Alina's Law is stuck in the House Judiciary Committee, then has to go to House floor for a vote. Then, it must get through the Senate before its makes its way to the governor's desk.

"It's so important for this law to be passed so everybody can feel safe. The extra layer of protection she didn't have the privilege to have," said Alina's friend Karly Krisovenski.

It's something Alina would've wanted. She was a bright light who would do anything to help others.

Her brother Artem said, "She always loved to help others, so hopefully this law will pass and she will get her wish."

The goal is to sign the bill into law by the end of the year.

"We had everyone come up here to show the legislators and leadership that they really need to start taking a stand on these domestic violence issues and start moving these bills," said Rep. Kulik.

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