Victims of violent crimes remembered

Wednesday, April 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Local families remember loved ones lost at the hands of violent criminals. For the fifth year, survivors planted flowers in front of the Tulsa County courthouse.

KOTV's Sean Mossman was at the ceremony and says it was part of national victims rights week. A week of memories for families, both good and bad. But also, a week to meet with men and women just like themselves, trying to go on without a beloved family member. Shelly Minton still remembers the tragic day in 1990. She walked into her grandmother’s home to find her murdered. The men who killed Shelly's grandma will never leave prison... but she chooses not to dwell on that now. Instead she comes to events like Tuesday's planting ceremony at the victim’s memorial garden. "It's something beautiful and something living. It's not just something cold and hard like a stone or a cemetery. For me, I picked out hot pink because pink was my grandmothers favorite color. Only steps from the front door of the county courthouse is where family members planted the flowers. Here in this garden. All with tags and names of the loved one who was the victim."

Several civic leaders joined the dozens of family members at the ceremony. Among them, Tulsa County Commissioner John Selph. He recalled the fight back in 1999 when area defense attorney's complained about the garden. They claimed it would taint potential jurors to see shrines to crime victims as they walked into the courthouse. But the family members won, and the garden remains a fixture in front of the courthouse. "I think the fight was worth it because these people took a stand. They felt they should stand up as victims, and that's so important." By the end of the ceremony, family members sang hand-in-hand with police and attorneys and other victims. Some even shared their experiences with the crowd, but not Shelly Minton. She says she'll gladly talk about her personal loss with anyone, but prefers to help others deal with their own losses.

Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage was on hand as well to proclaim victims rights week a citywide observance as well. As for the flowers, about 50 new plants went into the ground Tuesday afternoon.