Ensuring rights for victims of crime involves every element of our criminal justice system.
It involves victim advocates and prosecutors, but also the law enforcement officers who respond to a scene and the victims themselves. Each year, during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we honor those who have made a difference for victims and victims who face enormous challenges and emotional hardships to fight for what’s right.
In the last year in Maricopa County we’ve witnessed amazing compassion and bravery from many people, but today we’d like to highlight one victim who expressed great empathy towards the defendant and his family during a time when she was experiencing profound pain and loss, displaying remarkable courage and resilience.
Sarah lost her husband, David, who was killed by a drunk driver while he was stopped at a red light. Throughout the course of the case, Sarah said she felt like she was experiencing David’s funeral over and over again. She maintained strong feelings that she didn’t want the defendant to serve anything less than 20 years in prison. Though the prosecutor had multiple conversations with her about a potential plea offer, she stood firm that she didn’t want the defendant to be offered anything less than 2nd degree murder.
However, once a plea agreement was reached she submitted her impact statement to the judge, in which she actually thanked the defendant for sparing her family from having to go through a trial. She told the defendant that she forgives him, and stated that no amount of time he receives will bring her husband back. Then, she requested the Judge sentence the defendant to the minimum sentence possible. The defendant was sentenced to 10 years.
The prosecutor, defense attorney and Judge all commented on never experiencing a sentencing hearing where the victim’s family expressed such forgiveness for the defendant. Sarah is truly an example of courage.
As we end the commemorative National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we extend our thanks to all those who have dedicated themselves to protecting and supporting those in their most vulnerable time.