Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, August 1, 2016
News you can use … collected for you in July. (Scroll down to see all)
Contents will vary somewhat month to month, as we close out this month, our contents include:
Topic of the Month: Prosecuting the Case: Survivor Voices
Question of the Month: What happened in your case?
News: Two Day Conference 2017: Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying
Inspiration: “Not Forgotten” Project in Chicago contains photos and interviews
Resource of the Month: Victim Law
What you missed last month
Topic of the Month: Chapter Seven, Prosecuting the Case: The importance and complexity involved in this topic is large enough that this topic will continue next month as well. This month the focus will be on Survivor Experiences.
Excerpts from Murder Survivors Handbook
Here are what some Survivors have to say about this topic:
The FBI had a prime suspect in my parents’ deaths—my younger brother. They wanted to prosecute, but the U.S. attorney’s office refused, saying that without bodies, with little forensic evidence, and having an unreliable witness (my youngest sister, who failed two lie-detector tests and vowed to lie in court), that the odds of getting a guilty verdict were too low to risk incurring jeopardy. (Harrier)
When the case stalled, I met with the U.S. attorney assigned to the case. He explained why there would likely be no prosecution, no trial—the case was circumstantial; there were no bodies; there was little forensic evidence; and my sister was not a reliable witness. He did not want to risk incurring jeopardy by losing the case. (Harrier)
…Often it will feel like it is more about the system than it is about justice. It will seem like every consideration is being given to the Defense, on behalf of the Defendant….(Valeria)
Our charges were worked out behind closed doors with input from the Judge. We were advised up front that the justice system did not allow tailoring charges to increase the available sentencing options. We were given a voice only in the crafting of the plea offers, and then it was advisory in nature. We did, however, feel that the State took into account our perspective and the degree of concurrence we expressed was communicated to the judge at sentencing. ( JJ )’
It was a time when our private and public self felt so disconnected, and the hard work we had put into managing our emotions and grief was challenged on a regular basis throughout the trial. (Valeria)
I was told that my telling of domestic abuse was not relevant to the case, but I feel that it was the reason my sister was murdered; because I left my abusive boyfriend, and he couldn’t find me, so he found my sister and murdered her.(Kaila)
When court comes into session, they ask if the judge, the recorder, the prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney is present. They don’t even care or ask if the victim’s family is there. In a lot of cases, I think the defense would be very happy if we were not there. (Kaila)
Twenty-eight years later an arrest was made. After two years of court hearings, a plea agreement was reached for 2nd degree murder. (Halia)
Means, Motive, and Opportunity
The prosecution of a case does not mean motive has to be proven, but the jury does want to know why it happened. Did the defendant have the means, motive, and opportunity to do what he or she is charged with? In our Survivor Writer stories, some of the motives they believe were:
Marina: Oldest motive in the book. Dad planned to end his relationship with his abusive girlfriend, and she was enraged at the loss of a wealthy man to support her lifestyle! …
Harrier: He got caught doing something wrong.
Rose: Prevent having his life disrupted by his son’s existence; it would ruin him . . . child support was secondary.
Kaila: “Revenge.” How dare I leave the man that loved me. He Murdered my sister because I left him.
Yvonne: Random act, opportunity, found someone alone and vulnerable.
Mary: I do personally feel that these 6 teens were stupid and immature. I believe they were bored and thought it was okay to get their kicks that night by beating someone up and causing someone an injury….
Question of the Month – What happened in your case? Subscribe now … and follow up to let us know your thoughts by adding your comments about anything in this article.
Quote: Though you can never really be prepared for the unique challenges that will come your way, we hope that by relating our experiences and what we learned in our journey … you will gain insight and confidence by which to navigate the process, should you ever have to. (Valeria)
News: Two Day “Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying” Conference being planned for April 8 & 9, 2017 in San Diego, CA. Sponsors include Ted Rynearson, MD Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Sid Zisook, MD; University of California, San Diego. Planning Committee includes Connie Saindon, Founder of Survivors of Violent Loss; Ilanit Young, San Diego VA Center; Linda Pena, Director of S.D.DA’s Victim Assistance Center; Charles Nelson, Trauma Recovery Center; Kathleen Barnum, Elizabeth Hospice; Mary Edwards, Victim Assistance Coordinating Council with generous financial support from Carmela Caldera. *Mark your calendar.
Inspiration: Not Forgotten: Chicago Street Memorials. Journalist Ann-Marie Cusac and former Emergency Room MD Thomas Ferrella have teamed up to produce interviews and photography for a show at the Cage Gallery 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago running from September 29- December 3rd, 2016. Here is a link for more information for you poster
Resource of the Month: Victim Law: https://www.victimlaw.org/
Victim Law is a searchable database of victims’ rights legal provisions including federal, state, and territorial statutes, tribal laws, state constitutional amendments, court rules, administrative code provisions, and summaries of related court decisions and attorney general opinions.
Victim Law currently contains legal provisions relating to the following 10 basic rights of crime victims:
- The right to attend and be present at criminal justice proceedings;
- The right to be heard in the criminal justice process, including the right to confer with the prosecutor and submit a victim impact statement at sentencing, parole, and other similar proceedings;
- The right to be informed of proceedings and events in the criminal justice process, including the release or escape of the offender, legal rights and remedies, and available benefits and services, and access to records, referrals, and other information;
- The right to protection, including protection from intimidation and harassment;
- The right to privacy;
- The right to apply for crime victim compensation;
- The right to restitution from the offender;
- The right to the expeditious return of personal property seized as evidence whenever possible;
- The right to a speedy trial and other proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
- The right to enforcement of these rights and access to other available remedies.
What you missed last month:
Topic of the Month: The Criminal Justice Process
Question of the Month- What tips do you have?
Inspiration: I’ll cry again
Book Resource: Accidental Truth
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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us
Connie Saindon: firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Edwards: email@example.com