Crime victims remembered

Posted: Apr 24, 2012 5:04 PM CDT Updated: Apr 24, 2012 7:05 PM CDT

By DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager – email
By Jeanene Kiesling, Reporter – bio | email



Both nationally and in the Kansas City area, public officials and family members are remembering victims of violent crimes.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week aims to help change the way victims are treated in the criminal justice system and remember those killed. Locally, those who work to protect children from exploitation are also remembered.

Almost 15,000 were murdered in the United States in 2010 with 106 killed in Kansas City. Thus far in 2012, Kansas City has seen 39 homicides compared to 22 at the same period of time in 2011.

“There is no way anyone knows what that feels like unless you have been there,” said Greg Smith whose teen daughter Kelsey Smith was abducted from the Target near Oak Park Mall.

Her body was later found near Longview Lake and her killer has been sentenced to life in prison.

Smith and his wife created a charitable foundation, pushed to make it easier for law enforcement officials to get cell phone records and Smith successfully ran for the Kansas Legislature.

“It’s because the rights of the accused were more important than the rights of Kelsey,” Smith said. “The right to a speedy trial was more important than my daughter who was kidnapped, raped, sodomized and strangled and left to lay in the woods.”

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker joined Smith in the ceremony honoring crime victims.

“It’s a week where we honor the victims of crimes, but it’s also a week to put focus back on the victims and try to balance the rights of the defendant against the rights of the crime victim,” Baker said.

The hope is to find ways to quell violence and find justice for homicide victims so that their killers don’t roam free.

For more on aid to crime victims, click here.

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