Victims of violence remembered with memorial wreath

LAWRENCEVILLE - Holding back tears, Diane Dicks spoke to a crowd of about 60 people Monday.

Outside the doors of the Victim Witness Program offices at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Dicks spoke of her 22-year-old son Ricardo S. Dicks and of his kindness and passion for life before he was a victim of a brutal shooting in February.

Ricardo was shot to death 12 weeks and 2 days ago today while visiting a friend in Lawrenceville. Diane said someone drove by shooting at the house and Ricardo was caught in the crossfire.

"It was a brutal, senseless act," Diane said.

Ricardo was just one of the victims recognized Monday during a ceremony at the center to honor those who were victims of violent crimes last year.

Stan Hall, director of the Victim Witness Program for the county, said nearly 30 people were murdered in Gwinnett last year.

"In 2006 we had about 30 people who were murdered in Gwinnett County and those are the people who are remembered today," Hall said. "This is the 10th or so ceremony we've had to recognized those who fell victim over the past years. Really, it's for all victims to let them know we haven't forgotten."

The ceremony was held as part of the National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which prosecutor's offices and law enforcement agencies across the country observed Monday and continue to hold similar ceremonies for crime victims throughout the week.

According to the Office for Victims of Crime Web site, the ceremonial week is a time in which concerns of crime victims are addressed. Many states, including Georgia, have passed a Crime Victim's Bill of Rights law which mandates certain notifications must be made to crime victims as their case works its way through the criminal justice and judicial system.

A wreath of roses and lilies was hung on the door of the offices of the Victim Witness Program to remember Ricardo and the many others who lost their lives last year. The memorial wreath will hang on the door all week.

Sheila Howell also attended the 10:30 a.m. ceremony in remembrance of her 22-year-old daughter Whitney Land and 2-year-old granddaughter Jordan who were shot to death more than seven years ago while at a Gwinnett County Park.

"It's been seven and a half years since Whitney and Jordan were killed and I still come here," Howell said. "The district attorney and everybody always found time for me. They never made me feel like Whitney and Jordan were just a file on their desks. And that matters because you don't feel like your family is ever forgotten."