Families remember victims of violent crimes, honor advocates at ceremony

Crosses left outside the Pelham Civic Complex

PELHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Victims of violent crimes were remembered at a Monday night memorial service for families who have lost loved ones in the Birmingham area.

Victims’ families shared the importance of having advocates to help and lean on during the grieving process.

Outside the Pelham Civic Complex, names and faces of victims were displayed on crosses in the grass.

One was for Christopher Smith, who was killed in 2010. His father, Bobby Gene Smith, was convicted of killing his son two years later.

“They always say because it’s domestic violence, that it doesn’t seem to be as important as if it were a stranger,” said Christoper Smith’s mother Marsha.

For loved ones left behind, the court process can be especially difficult.

“We’ve seen the heartache, we’ve seen the tears, and at the same time, we’ve seen the strength from people willing to seek justice on behalf of not only themselves, but their loved ones,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Marshall joined police and families as they thanked advocates like Alabama’s Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL, and Safehouse of Shelby County.

“They’re really there with you in all that you go through during the whole process,” said Marsha Smith.

Even police aren’t immune to the heartache, Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer remembered Pelham Police Officer Phillip Davis. Davis was shot and killed during a 2009 traffic stop.

“We’re part of the family of the victims now. We miss Phillip. He’ll never be forgotten,” said Palmer.

Attorney General Marshall stressed the importance of a strong relationship between law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates and family members who have lost loved ones to violent crimes.

“We have to do a good job of preparing and counseling our victims to come forward, but also we need to show them results,” said Marshall.

More information on VOCAL can be found here. 

To learn more about Safehouse of Shelby County, click here. 

Crosses left outside the Pelham Civic Complex

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