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Victims of murder, violent crime remembered in Merced’s Courthouse Park

Merced County victims remembered during annual Victims Rights ceremony

Merced County victims were remembered during the annual Victims Rights ceremony at Courthouse Park in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
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Merced County victims were remembered during the annual Victims Rights ceremony at Courthouse Park in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

A somber gathering of families with loved ones who’ve lost their lives to violence happened at Courthouse Park in Merced on Tuesday.

Atwater resident Ashley Pena, 22, was among those who attended the ceremony. She was there in remembrance of her father Agustin Pena, who was killed in a hit-and-run collision in June 2016.

“It show’s that you’re not alone,” said Pena of the ceremony. “You’re not the only victim of a crime, there’s others with you, others (who) can help you.”

The event, the Annual Victims Rights ceremony, is sponsored every year by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, in recognition of Victims’ Rights Week.

Members of local law enforcement joined the families, who displayed photos of their loved ones and hung remembrance stars for them on a tree inside the park.

Merced County District Attorney Kimberly Lewis spoke during the ceremony assuring victims and their families that they have the support of the community.

“Our hearts go out to you,” said Lewis. “While we may never, never truly understand your grief, we sorrow with you.”

Pena said that her father was a good man and that he was funny and caring. She said that he would help someone even if they were a stranger off the street.

Pena said she will soon begin a career in law enforcement and that it’s still hard to talk about her father who is not here to witness it.

“He’s not here to pin me with my badge, but I know that he’s supporting me and he’s looking down and protecting me and my siblings,” she said.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

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