BELGRADE - On January 7, 2018, Lauren DeWise was allegedly shot by her estranged husband, Joseph Paul DeWise, in the Belgrade home she shared with roommate Ashley Van Hemert and another woman.
The 32-year-old mother-of-one had left her husband two months prior to her death due to his alleged ongoing physical abuse towards her and was in the process of seeking a divorce. The day before her death, DeWise had told the third roommate that she "felt safer than she had in years."
Despite multiple gunshot wounds to the back of her head, chest, and arm, Van Hemert survived the attack. But the road to recovery has been long for the 33-year-old, as she struggled to heal from the gunshot wounds, along with a punctured lung and broken ribs. The former nursing assistant was forced to relearn basic tasks like walking and holding objects. Despite the extent of her injuries, Van Hemert continues to fight.
For his part, DeWise was arrested four days after the shooting on January 11. He's since been charged with deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide. DeWise is also facing charges of witness tampering.
But 16 months after the shootings, and there's still no verdict for the 48-year-old. His February trial was delayed after DeWise requested new lawyers, a request that was denied last week.
Days after the denial, Van Hemert's sister launched a campaign asking people to pray for both Ashley and DeWise - for Ashley's continued recovery and DeWise's salvation.
Part of Van Hemert's recovery is relearning how to walk. The Sioux Falls, SD-native uses an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) device to make walking easier, but the device is limiting. According to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her to get an upgraded foot drop system, the new system would enable Van Hemert "to walk in a natural motion and [allow] her ankle and foot to re-learn the natural motion for walking." As of news time, Van Hemert has raised about half of the $6,200 needed to purchase the device.
On Tuesday, the date of DeWise's trial for the homicide charges was set for December 2-13, 2019. A date for the witness tampering charges has not yet been set.