The slaying of Raymond Serna Sevilla more than three years ago still invokes pain for his older sister and niece.
Both walked up to the microphone Tuesday afternoon at the annual Victims' Rights Ceremony and his niece, 12-year-old Isabella Bojorquez, said his name.
Moments later, she embraced Sevilla's sister, Marisol Alvarez, as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“He was really outgoing, and just, he made everybody laugh,” Isabella said.
Sevilla, a 19-year-old Dos Palos resident who was gunned down Dec. 7, 2014, was one of several victims honored during the ceremony at Courthouse Park held by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office and the Victim Witness Assistance Program.
The ceremony aims at remembering the victims of crimes in Merced County, their families and friends, and their rights as justice is sought through the courts.
About 80 people participated in the ceremony, which saw family and friends of slaying victims state their loved one's name for recognition.
They then tied notes of remembrance on a tree in the park.
“It’s hard seeing other people going through what you’re going through,” said Rudy Moore, whose son, Scotty Ray Moore, 34, was killed on Jan. 27. “But you know everybody makes it through."
Scotty Ray Moore was found by first responders early in the morning in the 500 block of Elmwood Drive in Los Banos with gunshot wounds, according to authorities. Emergency personnel attempted to revive him, but he died at the scene.
The shooting death remains under investigation, Los Banos Police Cmdr. Ray Reyna said.
Detectives were in the process of reviewing “large amounts” of evidence and there was no definitive motive or person of interest, Reyna said.
Since his son’s slaying, Rudy Moore said there are good days, but he has struggled with his son’s death more than the deaths of other family members because his son was killed.
“When I first learned about it, I didn't know what to believe,” he said. “Your head just explodes.”
Alvarez, also said her younger brother’s death was harder than the deaths of another brother from a car crash, and her father’s cancer-related passing.
“It’s different when someone decides they have the right to take a life,” Alvarez said.
Two men, Fabian Cruz Roman and Diego Leal, who were minors at the time, were convicted of slaying Sevilla. Roman faced 15 years to life in prison, while Leal was sentenced to four years in prison as a result of a plea deal.
The convictions brought Alvarez a sense of peace, she said, adding that the Victims’ Rights Ceremony was a way to keep the memories of her brother.
District Attorney Larry Morse II and Los Banos Police Chief Gary Brizzee, the guest speaker for the ceremony, said the impact a homicide has on the victim’s family can be forgotten at times and it’s important to keep those memories alive.
Brizzee alluded to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida as an example. He named several of the victims killed, noting they are often lost in a discussion that turns political.
“When the history books look back, I’m not sure it will remember the victims,” Brizzee said. “And that is the tragedy.”