Vigil for victims

The message that ”death may leave a heart that no one can heal, but love leaves a memory that no one can steal” was shared among those who came together Tuesday in support of local crime victims.

More than 50 people attended a candlelight vigil Tuesday at First United Methodist Church in Warren as part of the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Kathy Migliozzi, of the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children and one of the event organizers, said those who attended were there because of unfortunate circumstances.

”We have all been forced to go on this journey. We hope that by being here sharing together tonight, we can have united strength,” she said.

Migliozzi said former President Ronald Reagan created Victims’ Rights Week in April 1981 and each spring since then, communities across the nation have held vigils and other activities focusing on victims’ rights.

”Over 30 years ago, crime victims had no rights and were often excluded from the court proceedings and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencings. With advocacy and hard work, things have come a long way. This year’s theme, ‘Restoring the Balance of Justice,’ celebrates the spirit that will advance future progress and victims’ rights,” she said.

At the event, a video was shown to honor the memory of the many local crime victims from the 1970s to the present.

Warren resident Miriam Fife, a victims advocate, read the names of the more recent crime victims of 2013 and 2014 as Migliozzi lit a candle to honor them.

Those in attendance could light a candle for their loved ones while saying his or her name.

Stacey Adger, a dispatcher at Youngstown State University, said she lit a candle for those in law enforcement who have died in the line of duty.

Linda Baer-Bigley, legal advocate for Someplace Safe, said she lit a candle for those who are victims of domestic violence.

Migliozzi said the event allows those who may not have anyone for support to come and be with others who know what they have been through.

Judge Timothy Cannon of the 11th District Court of Appeals said the courts play a part in hearing cases on appeals while also listening to the victims.

”We review criminal cases and are always mindful of the victims’ rights. In Ohio, victims’ rights have developed significantly compared to 30 years ago when there weren’t any rights,” Cannon said.

He said in 1994, Ohio joined the majority of states that have a constitutional provision that victims can participate directly in the proceedings and submit an impact statement directly to the court.

Cannon praised such groups as POMC, which provides support to the families of homicide victims.

”There can be no better help than someone who has gone through this themselves,” he said.

Cannon said cases such as the one against Danny Lee Hill, who murdered 12-year-old Raymond Fife almost 29 years ago, is still in the courts.

”There is a serious responsibility on the part of our courts to move these cases along and bring them to a conclusion without any unnecessary delays,” he said.

Cannon also brought up a more recent case when 18-year-old T.J. Lane opened fire in his Chardon school last year.

”It took him only 20 seconds to do this and three students were dead,” he said.

”We try to make sense of senseless acts and these circumstances … For those victims this is a test that no one should have to face,” Cannon said.

He said as a judge it is his and other judges’ role to provide whatever support they can to victims and their families.

Cannon said he knows for many there are days that come around each year that are hard to face but you move forward.

”Many of you have been left with a hole that will never be filled. On a day following the recognition of the Boston Marathon victims, you must press on and run that race in a way that will make your dear departed loved ones proud of you,” Cannon said.