Authorities Asking for Crime Victims to Come Forward
BROWNSVILLE – A family whose loved one was murdered in Cameron County wants others to know there is help to find justice.
County officials tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS they have a special unit they can turn to.
The Cameron County district attorney says the program is important because it’s nearly impossible to prosecute cases with no victim. The office says the Victims Assistance Unit was designed to ensure fear never gets in the way of justice.
Claudia Cortez says the year of 2015 changed her life forever. She says two of her sons, Sergio and Christopher Gallegos, were attacked when they were leaving a party.
Christopher, 19, lost his life after being stabbed. Cortez says she feared retaliation when she and her son testified in court.
She says their testimonies lead to the sentencing of four people found guilty of Christophe’s death.
Cortez adds the family fought through their tears and found the strength to do what needed to be done with the help of the program.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz says the unit was created to help solve cases.
“It’s extremely frustrating because sometimes we have to dismiss a case because we cannot persuade or convince a victim to come forth,” he says.
He says he understands the demands of a trial can be difficult for victims and their families. In many cases, they’re asked to stand and point out their attacker.
Saenz tells us the 10 victim advocates that make up the unit protect the families physically and emotionally.
“We offer numerous services. From applying for protective orders, to drafting safety plans, to keeping them apprised of court dates, to holding their hands during a trail,” he explains.
He says the advocates reach out to victims immediately after a crime to offer their assistance.
Cortez says she’s glad she answered their call. She says she couldn’t have made it through the fours trials without them.
Saenz adds the unit can also provide victims or their families funds to help pay for medical bill or funerals through grants created by the Attorney General’s Office.