Voices of the victims
Sometimes, there is raw anger. Sometimes, forgiveness. Standing in
open court and speaking directly to someone who has killed or hurt
a loved one is an indelibly emotional experience. The words seldom
evoke a response from the victimizer, let alone an apology. Yet in
a special report, the News-Sentinel explores how victim statements
can be essential, even if they cannot repair the horrible damage
wrought by a violent crime.
Maria Ramirez wavered for weeks. At times, she wanted to say nothing. Other times, she wanted to say a lot.
Aaron’s 18th birthday was one of the hardest for Renee Garcia. She’d known that soon he would fly the nest and embark on a bright path without her by his side. This was the year her boy was supposed to become a man.
Janet Smith has sat through countless sentencings and watched victims’ loved ones confront the people who committed violent crimes. She’s listened to some berate shackled men and women, and heard others forgive. She’s seen some loved ones not shed a tear and had to hold others who became so emotional they could no longer speak or stand.