By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – If you have never been the victim of a crime it is hard to appreciate the turmoil and ordeal those individuals face every day.
Warren Montgomery, district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District Court, made a point to let those victims know they are not forgotten as he hosted an open house at the St. Tammany Justice Center to commemorate National Crime Victim’s Rights Week.
Such an event had seldom been seen in the past in St. Tammany Parish, but Montgomery—newly elected D.A. two years ago—decided to not only let those victims know they are not forgotten, but did it in a positive way with a party he threw on the second floor of the Justice Center.
Not only was there a fantastic performance from the Fontainebleau High School Jazz Ensemble, along with free food and drinks, but Montgomery also invited support groups to the open house, offering many ways that victims could find assistance.
There was no attempt to invite only victims who had moved on after the crimes as there were crime victims who spoke with Montgomery, and others in law enforcement, about ongoing problems and situations that are still not resolved.
One young woman brought three little children with her after stating her house was set on fire three times and her home broken into more than 10 times from a domestic situation she was involved in. She said one of her children has cerebral palsy, which led to her losing her job.
Joe King, whose daughter Ashley King was murdered in 2012 but waited four years to ever see the case go to trial, said that Montgomery’s election was the key to finally getting justice in the case.
“We never had any help getting this case to trial until Mr. Montgomery was elected,” he said. “I drove back-and-forth so many times from Shreveport waiting for something to start and it was constantly postponed. It took four years to ever prosecute those people who killed my daughter.”
King was brutally murdered in Slidell when two men entered her apartment intent on stealing money and prescription painkillers. When they were surprised by King she was attacked and murdered. Both men are now serving time in prison for the killing, and a 22-year-old woman also pled guilty to obstruction of justice in the case.
Montgomery spoke to the crowd and said he “prays for healing, peace and reconciliation for all of you. It’s very important to me that we hold this event and make it a party to try and create better memories for you when coming to this Justice Center.
“I realize my words are inadequate to perform any real healing for you, but I want you to know that every day we will fight for you in the courtroom. We will have losers and disappointments in some cases, but we understand you are all real people and that is why it is important for me to have this event and acknowledge what you are all facing as victims of crimes,” he added.
Montgomery didn’t sugar coat how difficult many cases can be for the victims.
“The law rarely achieves perfect justice,” he said. “But we will always try to give the victims a voice when they can’t do it themselves.”