Victim Impact Statement Tips for Homicide Survivors, Part II

 

Victim Impact Statement

This is a series of articles on the importance of the Victim Impact Statement including tips that I have gathered over the years from my personal experience as a homicide survivor, from others, and from those I have been able to assist in writing this critical document.

Expressing fear for your personal safety and the right to be reasonably protected is one of your State Constitutional rights, currently active in 33 states, under the Federal Statute enacted in October 2004 by the Reagan Administration.

But, what does it really mean to be reasonably protected? According to the Crime Victim’s Act of 2004:

2.11 Release or Detention Pending Sentence or Appeal

If there is an issue whether the defendant may be released pending sentencing or appeal, victims must be notified of the hearing and provided an opportunity to be heard. As noted earlier, section 3771(a)(1) provides that crime victims have the right “to be reasonably protected from the accused.” Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 46, the defendant has the burden of establishing that he or she does not “pose a danger to any other person or to the community.”

An educated guess concerning not posing a danger after many years of incarceration, no matter the number of crimes or how heinous the crimes may have been, might be house arrest, wearing a GPS device, being employed under constant supervision, and probation. However, reality tells us that probation is overburdened, GPS technology fails, and there are not enough staff to adequately monitor prisoners when on the outside.

What are the provisions made for surviving victims who are elderly, medically challenged, or victims who happen to be disabled?  Will the system provide real protection other than the usual bureaucratic responses?

In my personal case, I do not feel confident. I do not feel secure in the knowledge that the person who murdered my father will necessarily leave us in peace.  Rest assured that I will not quit until I know what reasonably protected truly means in practical terms. In the final analysis, the Pardon and Parole Board or the Court’s decision is just another decision in just another workday for most hearing officers, with nothing to differentiate them.

For those with able bodies and minds, I offer our natural resources as an option, if and when personal terror invades.     

The fight or flight response is a physiological response to acute stress when an imminent threat is present, real or perceived, either physically or mentally. This occurs naturally by triggering hormones which prepare your body to stay and deal with the threat effectively or flee from the situation. The manner in which this occurs includes the triggering of chemicals from your adrenal glands resulting in increased heart rate, breathing for increased energy, blood rushing to your brain and extremities and trembling due to muscular tension.  

Whether your brain and body choses flight or fight at the crucial moment to protect, I can’t say.  As for me, I can’t flee effectively, so I’ll have to depend upon my intellect to save me, which is what I have always done.

Within the context of your Victim Impact Statement you should relay your fears, as well as whether your current conditions to be reasonably protected are favorable to the decisions to be made by the court. Express your expectations on what reasonably protected means to you and your family.

For more tips on victim impact statements:

Victim Impact Statement: Tips for Homicide Survivors, Part I


 

DonnaGore-2

If  you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.

To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Victim Impact Statement: Tips for Homicide Survivors, Part I

Victim Impact Statement

This is a series of articles on the importance of the Victim Impact Statement including tips that I have gathered over the years from my personal experience as a homicide survivor, from others, and from those I have been able to assist in writing this critical document.

As a new crime victim, an affiliation that was never imagined or requested, you are thrust into the world of the unknown. If you are fortunate enough to have arrived on this stage of victim impact delivery at a trial sentencing, as opposed to plea deals, you have arrived at the most important point in your journey for justice. Your voice is finally allowed to be counted. The real world of criminal justice is a bitter pill to swallow. Justice is never swift nor fair, especially concerning sentencing.

When you begin to prepare your victim impact statement, you want to convey the journey and the overall toll it has taken from many perspectives; emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, the overview of your current situation. Projecting into the future, express your wishes regarding the disposition of the perpetrator and any changes to the system which negatively impacted and/or re-victimized you or, alternately, your satisfaction with how you were treated.

Familiarizing the Deciding Body with the Victim

The judge or parole hearing officers may have a pre-sentence report, but that report may contain very little information about who your loved one was, the way they lived their life and what they meant to you, as opposed to only being the victim of the crime.

It is imperative that you provide a complete portrayal of your loved one both visually with pictures, and with the words of your Victim Impact Statement, as this may be your only opportunity for several years until the point of your initial court or parole appearance, or until you obtain future opportunity to address the court or parole board.

Talk about who your loved one was beyond the crime; their assets, talents, what they contributed to the family and to others, and their aspirations for the future that were taken away.  You can acknowledge that the victim may have had flaws, as we all do, however, the account should stress their past positive activities.

Watch for more information in future articles of Victim Impact Statement: Tips for Homicide Survivors


DonnaGore-2

If  you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.

To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

Paying the Price Over and Over: Still More Victimization for Crime Victims!  

 

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Once upon a time there was a crime victim advocate who received a mysterious message from a State’s Attorney via her website. Ahh, yes, it was me.  With considerable trepidation I listened to the message which concerned a very high profile Connecticut case of long ago that had international press that stretched from West Hartford, to Israel and Mexico, and even the TV show, “America’s Most Wanted” several times!

Background

This case was one in which I was personally invested beginning in the 80’s. I had bonded with the matriarch of the family with whom I attended support meetings. I was there as a court escort during every ghastly minute of the trial and sentencing to try to educate and support the family.   In later years, I did a radio podcast with this wonderful woman who conveyed her ordeal after a 23 year wait for justice and after having survived many additional  family tragedies. This elderly lady was resilience plus!

We would touch base every so often and, admittedly, we have not been in touch for a long time.

It is so hard to know when someone in their 70’s, 80’s or nearly 90 wants to “put it all away,” like sealing an envelope, locking the door and moving on forever, however, not at peace, their heart remains.  This becomes the moral question when you are faced with a choice.

The Conversation

The attorney was a post conviction attorney and was in charge of representing the victim’s family in still another judicial hearing. The murderer was now requesting an appeal on the basis of ineffective counsel. All of the rules and procedures of ineffective counsel appeals are complex and speaks primarily to the plight of indigent clients. 

However, in this case, the defendant was anything but poor, with a wealthy family able to hide him out for years in other countries undetected! Although money talks, the attorney told me that these appeals are seldom successful.

The Shocker

I was contacted as the attorney was scrounging around the internet to try to find contact information for the victim’s family.

What?? How could this be?  

Was it because the attorney newly assigned attorney didn’t have access to the original case file? Was it because there was such a huge timeline from the initial crime convictions, years on the lamb, and actual capture and family members are now not able to be accessed?

This was a HUGE case with the FBI and the murderer being one of the most sought after criminals in history! Apparently, they don’t keep track of family once their job is done!

No, No, No… The real reason was that all of the funds in post conviction Connecticut cases currently have to be put into the judicial process. That means there are no investigators to assist and no victim advocates to notify victim families!  No funds whatsoever on the victim side of the equation such that an attorney is relegated to doing his own internet searches and being as creative as possible to get the job done.

As a homicide survivor from Connecticut I am horrified! How many other post conviction cases are there with absolutely no victim services for investigation and the all important notification?

(The actual timeline spanned from the date of the murder in March 1987 to July of 2011 when the evil perpetrator was finally escorted to prison in Connecticut  to begin serving his 60 year sentence.)

The Request and Follow-Up

Can I contact the victim’s family and notify them that this proceeding is taking place soon and provide contact information to the attorney?  There was another option of a former  retired investigator assisting.

I  was truly torn.  To receive a communication out the the blue, involving this family who has gone through so much already. In addition, I did not know how my very elderly friend’s health could withstand such news or whether she had any interest at all to disrupt her life yet again! And wait a minute – It is the responsibility of the State of Connecticut and affiliated Victim Services to provide notification and follow up support!

I tried to research and locate an older family sibling in and out of Connecticut and made calls, but was unsuccessful in reaching the correct person.  

I then decided to check out the situation further and went to the West Hartford Police to speak to a detective. The young detective listened and agreed to check on the veracity and the circumstances, which he verified with a follow up call to me. However, it was clear that they were still putting the ball in my court.

I still did not feel comfortable calling this family’s matriarch after so many months to deliver such news! It didn’t feel right.  I think I was correct. This is why… In July 2011 the perpetrator’s sentence was disposed and he was ordered to begin his long overdue sentence in a secure facility.

At this proceeding, the following were Addie’s words-

I’m not here to see Adam Zachs. My family is not here to see Adam Zachs. I’m here to support some of the people [who captured Zachs] – the West Hartford police, the U.S. marshals. They were relentless.”

“The reason I don’t want to see Adam again is I’ve had enough of the Zachs family,” Carone said. “Three weeks at the trial they looked at us with hate in their eyes and their faces, anger at us, and arrogance. No words of any kindness or sympathy. Shame on the entire family. I will never, never forgive that family.”

Parting Thoughts

What has our criminal justice system become when there are absolutely no funds to notify victims of still more turmoil in a scenario that has dragged on for years and years? How many more families are affected by this situation?  Why are survivors of crime a mere afterthought in such cases?

There is no doubt that this murderer was guilty and that thousands, maybe millions of dollars were expended in investigating and trying to capture this worthless human being- a person with no conscience and was all about privilege to get through life?

This is the responsibility of our State as a matter of public safety and our Constitutional Victim’s Rights. We must inform  in a timely matter with sensitivity, the perils of crime -wounds that never seem to heal.

References-

https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/criminal_justice_section_newsletter/crimjust_cjmag_24_3_primus.authcheckdam.pdf

https://patch.com/connecticut/westhartford/convicted-killer-zachs-taken-away-to-prison

https://patch.com/connecticut/westhartford/convicted-killer-zachs-taken-away-to-prison


DonnaGore-2To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Catalyst for Change- Victim Impact Statement Resonates Across the Halls of Washington D.C. & with the Inspector General of Homeland Security 

 

The following narrative is a heartfelt account of a mother who lost many opportunities to guide and nurture a daughter who was re-establishing her life.

Wendy Hartling

Wendy Hartling (photo courtesy FOX Insider)

Consider the ordeal and evolution of Wendy Hartling of Norwich, CT.

  • Just a year ago, Wendy was  “just an ordinary citizen” and resident of Connecticut;
  • She was thrust into a whirlwind of circumstances which includes the murder of her 25 year old daughter, Casey Chadwick on June 15, 2015, after her body was discovered stuffed in a living room closet by an illegal immigrant and multiple felon;
  • With the assistance of dedicated advocates including her attorney, Chester Fairlie and the Connecticut Congressional delegation,  her case has served as the catalyst for change regarding the innumerable deportation failures of ICE – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency;
  • As overwhelming as it is, Wendy has become a local advocate and national spokesperson for her daughter and for all persons who have been re-victimized by the failures of ICE.

The murder of Casey Chadwick is a stunning example of the domino effect at its very worst. Worse than bureaucracy, indifference, incompetence and misplaced priorities, it costs the lives of valuable human beings and allows a vicious, nearly two time murderer to come to the U.S. illegally three times to carry out his crimes! This can no longer be tolerated! 

Wendy’s Testimony at the House of Representatives COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

Hello. My name is Wendy Hartlng. My life will never be the same after June 15, 2015. I am here on behalf of my daughter Casey who was stabbed to death and stuffed into a closet by a criminal alien, Jean Jacques. He was found guilty of attempted murder in 1996 and served sixteen years in Connecticut Prison. He should have been automatically deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he was released from prison. Instead he killed Casey on June 15, 2015 and was found guilty of her murder after a trial. My hope is that he never gets out of prison.

According to laws passed by Congress, Jacques should have been deported. ICE had him in custody and detention three times. Tragically, ICE released him three times and he killed Casey just a few months after his last release by ICE. From defensive wounds we know that Casey fought courageously and that she suffered greatly before her death. If ICE and Homeland Security had done their job Casey would not have died and I would not be here as part of the club of Homicide Survivors which no parent wants to join.

My Attorney Chester Fairlie has written an article on the failure of deportation of criminal aliens. I would like to submit a copy of the article s part of my testimony. Mr. Fairlie states “This miscarriage of the deportation process contributed to the death of Casey Chadwick and caused grief and suffering to her parents and friends.” I understand that the Inspector General of Homeland Security has undertaken a full investigation of the Jacques failed deportation case and we are awaiting the report.

My daughter was loved so much by family and friends. Over three hundred people came to her wake. Casey and I were very close. She called and texted me every day. I can no longer talk to my daughter, hold her, hug her or just simply hang out with her or go out to eat which was one of her favorite things to do. This breaks my heart every second of every day. Casey’s best friend for thirteen years Crysta who came with me on this trip as support is devastated as is Casey’s boyfriend.

This is what I have lost. I can’t watch her walk down the aisle on the arm of her father. She will never have the chance of becoming a Mom, something she was thinking of before her death. She will never see her two nephews grow up or go to her siblings’ weddings. She will never again be at our family functions and holidays.

The tragedy of Casey’s death is not an isolated case and is occurring frighteningly often around the country.

Something has to be done to fix this horrible problem. I would never want any family to have to go through this. The pain is always with me. My heart is broken. I go to a Survivors of Homicide group which is very helpful.  An important thing I learned was that the pain will never go away. I have to learn to live with it. I am trying but it is the hardest thing for me in my entire life.

I was not prepared for Casey’s sudden death and I am doing the best I can. I was not prepared to become a Victim Advocate in her honor and I am doing the best I can. Thank you for listening.

Casey Chadwick

Casey Chadwick (photo courtesy FOX 61)

Commentary

The emotional upheaval of homicide is compounded by the task of crafting a cohesive, personal and impactful statement for the sentencing phase of a trial, or parole/pardons hearing. Wendy will utilize her public hearing testimony above as her victim impact statement.  Her wish is to become a long time advocate for this issue on behalf of Casey’s memory.

As a fellow homicide survivor, I believe that the most compelling aspects of her statement are: what she has learned “… that the pain will never go away and that I have to lean to live with it” and the fact that she was not prepared for the sudden death of her daughter, Casey, not prepared for this level of advocacy required to get justice. I ask you, how could anyone be prepared if they were in her shoes? 

If you have sufficient times – several weeks to months to prepare and require assistance with your victim impact statement, your investment in my customized victim impact writing service could be just what you’re looking for!

https://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/

Important Reference Information:

http://fixdeportation.org/ Chester Fairlie’s Website;

Former Shattered Lives Radio Shows on this topic:

  1. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/insidelenz/2015/10/24/shattered-lives-illegal-immigrant-spared-deportation-murders-ct-woman
  2. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/insidelenz/2016/05/21/shattered-lives-atty-chester-fairlie–government-secrecy-ice