The Pursuit Of Justice For Homicide Victims
Thank you Griffin Dunne for writing this complex story about where Marsy’s Law began: the victims of California including one of its great supporters, Jack Reilley. Jack has alway tried to help victims understand the PTSD that they will undergo and the stress it puts on your body and soul when you loose a loved one to homicide. He and his beautiful wife, Genelle, suffered greatly due to their battles with the Justice System and his daughter Robbin’s murderer’s extradition from IL to CA and his pending trial which were enabled by provisions within Marsy’s Law.
As you will read, Jack had a heart attack at the 30 year anniversary of Justice for Homicide Victims at its Memorial which was held at Rosehills Memorial Park. Jack is getting stronger so that he can have his much needed heart operation. He is a fighter and has some great support. We will keep you updated on his condition.
– The Huffington Post, By Griffin Dunne
Something happened last week at a graveyard in Whittier, California that you might never hear about unless I tell you.
Jack Reilley, whose daughter Robbin was murdered in 1986, was speaking to families on the 30th anniversary of Justice for Homicide Victims, an organization founded by Marcella Leach and my mother Ellen Griffin Dunne. Jack was addressing a membership that no one would ever want to join. It was only inexplicable loss that had brought them together, the kind of loss my mother was all too aware.
On October 30th, 1982, her daughter and my sister Dominique was strangled by an ex-boyfriend she had broken up with because he had become physically abusive. She lay in a coma until November 4th when she was pronounced dead. The murderer served a mere three years in a minimum security prison with tennis courts and cable TV. Marcella Leach’s daughter, Marsy, was shot to death by a rejected suitor. Though her killer was arrested, Marcella was horrified to learn he’d been released on bail not from the district attorney’s office, but from the killer himself when he taunted her at their local grocery.
Hearing of this travesty, my mother cold-called Marcella and opened with a haunting line my mother would later repeat to countless other parents in agony: “You don’t know me but we have something terrible in common.” My mother told Marcella she could either continue crying for Marsy in support groups or help create laws that would force the judicial system to treat them with respect. Today Marsy’s Law, with mandatory bail and parole notification among it’s statutes, is one of the strongest and most comprehensive constitutional victims’ rights laws in the U.S.
The 30th anniversary of Justice For Homicide Victims was held at Rose Hills Cemetery where JVH had built a beautiful memorial honoring their sons, daughters and parents whose lives had been violently cut short.
On either side of the memorial that day were rows of easels propping up pictures of the murdered, most of them children, some who’d been killed as long ago as the late 1970s. I was also a speaker and seated in the front row, which happened to be directly in front of Dominique’s smiling face, which I took as a sign to do Mom proud and not screw up my speech. One of the themes in my remarks was how the violent end of a family member can shorten the life span of their survivors. How grief can be something tangible that enters the bloodstream and even affect one’s vitals and immunities. My mother had multiple sclerosis and there was no doubt that the trauma of Dominique’s murder and the humiliation of the trial that followed accelerated this disease and took her life at least decade prematurely.
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