As 2012 draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting about several tragic crimes that left an ugly mark on the entire year. Two of these high profile crimes involved domestic violence. First, there were the Azana Spa & Salon murders and suicide in Brookfield. Then, in Kansas City, we heard about the tragic murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher of the Chiefs and his longtime girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins.
Neither man who pulled the trigger was willing to go through the court system, face public scrutiny and answer for his unspeakable actions. Both cases graphically demonstrated the horrors of domestic abuse, a crime that occurs with alarming frequency in the United States.
Two other major shooting cases also grabbed national headlines in 2012. The first was the Colorado “Batman” theatre mass murders and then, right in our own backyard, we learned of the Oak Creek Sikh Temple killings. Again, both senseless tragedies.
When these types of crimes are committed, society inevitably goes numb before asking the question that rarely evokes an adequate answer: Why? Why did these innocent people have to die? What circumstances would drive a person to burst into a church or a theatre and just start killing innocent people for no reason? What circumstances in a relationship could any human being use to rationalize killing the mother of his child before turning the gun on himself?
Will cases these lead to more intense discussion about gun control? Certainly. Could tighter gun control laws have prevented these crimes from occurring? Honestly, I don’t have a particular opinion either way.
One thing that IS for certain is that these sad events change the lives of people forever. We see the awful headlines or see the shocking video on television. But, if we’re not directly involved, we have the freedom to turn the page and move on with our lives. Those directly involved do not have that luxury. If they survive, their lives are permanently altered. They will never be able to forget. Life will never be the same.
Cases like these also highlight the importance of providing assistance to the victims of crime. In Wisconsin, there are many Victim Service Agencies which are outstanding resources designed to help victims in these times of crisis. The wide array of programs assist survivors of homicide, as well as victims of sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, drunk driving and many other crimes. Wisconsin also offers many outstanding victim/witness assistance programs.
For a great list of crime victim resource links, you can visit the Wisconsin Department of Justice at http://www.doj.state.wi.us/cvs/OCVS_pages/victim_services.asp. The people who run these programs do a truly excellent job and they are often the unsung heroes because they deal with tragic events and often do so with limited funding.
Losing a loved one through illness or aging a tough enough. But how do you cope with seeing a loved one just an hour earlier before learning they were tragically killed in this fashion? These programs cannot offer all of the answers. But they offer a start.
So, as we turn the page to 2013, here’s wishing you and yours a happier, safer New Year and a more peaceful future for us all.
About Attorney Mark Powers
Attorney Mark Powers is a partner at the criminal defense law firm of Huppertz & Powers, S.C. in Waukesha. Previously, Powers served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Waukesha County District Attorney's office as well as a municipal judge in North Prairie. He currently focuses in the area of criminal defense, and has handled many cases involving operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, domestic disputes, and drug offenses.
Powers attended Valparaiso University School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate. Prior to law school, Mark attended the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse where he received his bachelor of science in Political Science.
For more information, please call 272.549.5979 or visit www.waukeshacriminalattorneys.com.