Victim Witness Unit honors police, others

April 26, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

As part of national Crime Victims' Rights Week, the Washington County Office of the State's Attorney's Victim Witness Unit is honoring at least one person a day who went "beyond the call of duty" to help victims of local crimes and their families, Jill Ritter, the unit's director, said Tuesday.

The Victim Witness Unit receives nominations and makes decisions on who gets recognized based on how the nominee reached out to help, whether they made an impression on the victims or their families and how they have expressed to them their understanding of what has happened and what will happen in the future, Ritter wrote.

Each honoree is recognized with a certificate of appreciation from State's Attorney Charles Strong and gets a donated breakfast and various gift donations from local establishments, Ritter said.

On Monday, an investigator, a witness and a prosecutor were recognized for their involvement with the prosecution of Ricky Rinaldo Stallings Jr., who was sentenced to life without parole plus 30 years for first-degree murder and other charges in the Feb. 8, 2005, shooting death of Mary Elizabeth Williams.

  • Washington County Sheriff's Department Investigator Greg Alton was honored for his "sincere compassion" to Williams' family and for his work with Amanda Stallings, a "valuable witness" in the case.

  • Chris Hobart, who was Williams' boyfriend at the time of her death, drove Williams to the Sheriff's Department for help after Stallings shot into his car, fatally striking Williams. Hobart was recognized Tuesday "for his bravery and courageous efforts in trying to provide shelter and safety" for Williams, Ritter wrote.

  • Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil, who prosecuted Stallings' case, was recognized for his compassion toward Williams' family, recognizing Williams as "a victim and not just a photograph," Ritter wrote.

On Tuesday, five Hagerstown Police Department detectives were recognized for their work with separate cases.

  • Detectives Casey Yonkers and Chris Kayser were recognized for keeping in "constant contact" with the family of Eliezer Rodriguez, who was stabbed to death Dec. 10, 2005, in Hagerstown.

  • Detective Shane Blankenship was recognized for "his compassion and understanding to the family" of Madyson King during the police investigation into the 3-year-old girl's Nov. 9, 2004, death.

  • Detectives Tammy Jurado and Steve Hoover were recognized for "their deep compassion and support" of the family of Terrance "T.J." Johnson, who was shot and killed April 5, 2005, in a Noland Village courtyard.

Ritter wrote of Jurado and Hoover, "Because of their testimony at the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, a decision was overturned to assist the grieving mother to pay for funeral expenses."

Others will be honored today, Thursday and Friday.

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