Helpers of crime victims, witnesses are honored Assistance center's importance is stressed

April 19, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

Tim Elliott and Eric Smith did not hesitate to rush to their neighbor's aid when they heard screams coming from her home on Granada Street in Annapolis one morning last May.

Yesterday, they were among several citizens and county employees honored by State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee for their work in helping victims and witnesses. They received a letter of thanks and a certificate at a luncheon in a brick courtyard in front of the Arundel Center.

The Victim-Witness Assistance Center, which came under attack the 1994 state's attorney race, serves an important function, Mr. Weathersbee told a crowd of about 50.

"I have to keep reminding everyone, particularly those who are in charge of my budget, how important this victim assistance program is today," he said. "Especially when we hear how much individuals are displeased with the criminal justice system."

The center, set up in 1977, helps victims and witnesses deal with the criminal justice system.

Mr. Smith said he was surprised to see how well the program worked.

"I thought this was going to be some brutal experience with mean cops interrogating me and prosecutors who could care less," Mr. Smith said. "It was an extraordinarily gentle experience."

Mr. Smith, Mr. Elliott, and his family came to the rescue of their neighbor Kathleen Finerty when a man followed her into her house in the 1900 block of Granada around 7 a.m. last May 15 and began to beat her.

Mr. Elliott took the woman out of her home, while Mr. Smith and Bill Dammeyer, Mr. Elliott's father-in-law, blocked the man's way out.

Larry Clay Turner, 26, of the 400 block of Captain's Circle, was convicted in the attack and is serving a 10-year prison term.

County Police Detective Ed White and Officer Rick Hicks also were honored yesterday, Detective White for helping to solve a 2 1/2 -year-old hit and run case, and Officer Hicks for providing detailed reports that led to convictions in domestic violence cases.

Scott Lowman, an employee of Langton Greene, a home for developmentally disabled adults in Annapolis, and George Wolff the Providence Center were honored for their efforts in helping prepare a developmentally disabled man to testify against his family members in a sexual abuse case.

Victim advocates also honored Deputy Sheriff Chuck Brown for his help in calming children who are nervous about testifying and Donald Gysegem and Michael Muench for chasing a purse snatcher at Marley Station mall last year.

They didn't catch him, but they got a vehicle license number, and police tracked the suspect down.

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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