MCAO Victim Advocates work every day to help those in our community who have been impacted by crime. One such example is Advocate Laura Lopez, who worked with the family of the victim in a heartbreaking murder case that involved 3 defendants, each tried separately. While each case presented its own set of challenges, Laura was there to help the family through it all.
While prosecutors were focused on seeking justice for this crime, Laura worked with the family to keep them informed of each step in the legal process, provided emotional support and coping techniques to make it through the difficult times. Laura even stood with one of the family members as testified as a witness. The family chose to attend all hearings, including every day of trial.
The 3 defendants were each sentenced to 25 years for the crime. During the sentencing phase, the victim’s mother told the Judge through her Victim Impact Statement, “I want to thank the attorneys, detectives, and my son for doing an amazing job... I want to thank my advocate who was always there in moments when I needed her the most. She hugged me and let me cry on her shoulder. Everyone was so supportive and respected my decision to be involved through it all. Now my son can finally rest in peace.”
During the third week of April, we honor those who have dedicated their lives and careers to ensuring the rights of victims and their families as we commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme is Seek Justice – Ensure Victims’ Rights – Inspire Hope.
“As a prosecutors’ office, we are here to enforce laws and provide public safety, but that is not the end of the story,” said Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. “Victims of crime are unwillingly thrown into an unfamiliar situation often having encountered fear, emotional and physical trauma, and are now faced with navigating the justice system. We honor those who have dedicated their lives to helping victims through these challenging times, and the victims who have endured. Both are an inspiration to others.”
Arizona has a rich history of guaranteeing rights for crime victims. In 1990, Arizona voters were among the first in the nation to ratify a constitutional amendment called the Arizona Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. These rights include being treated with fairness, respect, and dignity. Victims are also guaranteed to be present at all criminal proceedings where the defendant has a right to be present. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office provides a range of support services to help crime victims and their families navigate and understand all the stages of a criminal case.