Victims of crime remembered in ceremony Tuesday

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 ~ Updated 11:39 PM

Under the sweeping, low branches of a weeping willow tree in Cape Girardeau County Park Tuesday, a group of people gathered to lay flowers -- each rose, daisy or lily laid in memory of a victim of a crime.

The flower ceremony, held each year since 2007, is a reminder to crime victims and their families that their suffering is not forgotten.

It's held in remembrance of all crime victims in Cape Girardeau County and in honor of National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

"We don't want people to feel like what happened to them and their family doesn't matter," said Beth Garoutte, a court advocate for the Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney's office.

Prior to the flower ceremony, Linda Garner, director for Safe House for Women, read a victim impact statement given to her by a woman affected by domestic violence. She laid a flower for a past client who died as a result of domestic violence.

Morley Swingle, Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney, said the flower he chose Tuesday was in memory of 2-year-old Devin Fox who was killed by a drunken driver Nov. 8, 2009. The boy's mother was also critically injured in the accident.

The boy and his family were vacationing in Ripley County and on their way home when a drunken driver crossed the center line and struck their vehicle.

The alleged drunken driver is charged in Ripley County with involuntary manslaughter and was also charged in Cape Girardeau County for possession of a controlled substance after medical personnel at a local hospital found morphine pills in the defendant's pants pocket.

He's waiting for his trial on the involuntary manslaughter charges in prison after recently being convicted on the drug possession charges.

"It's such a senseless thing, a life being snuffed out by a drunk driver. It's such an easy thing to stop," Swingle said. "It's so senseless that this 2-year-old lost his chance to have a life."

Missouri State Highway Patrol officer Brad Lively was also at the ceremony to remember a crime victim -- a fellow officer who was shot March 20, 2005, outside his Van Buren, Mo. residence.

Sgt. Dewayne Graham was shot in the back by a passing motorist, later identified as Lance Shockley. Graham was investigating a fatal accident where the driver had fled the scene and thought Shockley may have been involved. Shockley was arrested three days after Graham's death on the leaving the scene of an accident charge and on March 25, 2005, was arrested for Graham's murder.

Family members of Jamie Lynn Orman, Orman's unborn child and son Derrick, murdered Oct. 27 in Cape Girardeau, also chose to participate in the ceremony.

Two other advocates from the Safe House for Women dedicated a flower to sexual assault victims and the men and women affected by domestic violence who choose not to seek help.

A proclamation was signed Monday by Swingle and other Cape Girardeau County officials declaring it Crime Victims' Rights Week in the county.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week has been observed by communities nationwide since 1981.

ehevern@semissourian.com

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