“All the money in the world will not bring back the people whose faces you will see up here tonight.” sid gautreaux, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff
Rosalyn Lee Crump told the crowd gathered Tuesday at LSU’s Chapel on the Campus her favorite memory of her granddaughter, Charitee Shyne Atkins, who died one day after her mother, Kayla, was shot and wounded in June by her estranged husband.
“Charitee was going to be known as baby Moody to the family,” Crump said. “Charitee came into this world with a big smile on her face.”
Kayla Atkins is still in the hospital, Crump said.
Crump’s granddaughter and 13 other homicide victims were honored Tuesday night at the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Seventh annual Evening of Remembrance. The ceremony allows family members to share their memories and thoughts of their loved ones in a public forum.
Several law enforcement officials who spoke during the event referenced Baton Rouge’s latest homicide Tuesday, which was similar to Atkins’ case.
A pregnant woman was shot, allegedly by her boyfriend, and the woman and her fetus died.
“It’s frustrating to know that this is happening every day,” Crump said after the event.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Sgt. Carolyn Stapleton, director of the Sheriff’s Office Crime Victims’ Assistance Division, said the night serves as a way for “those of us left behind” to reflect and remember.
“I hope tonight you leave here with some measure of healing just by realizing that you are not alone,” Stapleton said.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said the Sheriff’s Office Crime Victims’ Assistance Division has helped give victims about $325,000 in funding for lost wages and medical expenses, among other things, in the past year.
“But here’s the problem: All the money in the world will not bring back the people whose faces you will see up here tonight,” Gautreaux said.
Gautreaux also said law enforcement officials care so much that they will investigate every violent crime with ardent fervor, regardless of the victim’s race or socioeconomic status.
“When we investigate a homicide, what we see is another human being,” he said.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III referenced Tuesday’s homicide in his remarks, calling it “the most cowardly act of a man.”
“Alleged and allegedly are words that we, particularly lawyers, must use to describe those accused until convicted,” Moore said. “There are no alleged victims — only real victims.”
Police Chief Dewayne White recounted Tuesday’s murder, as well as the death of his brother Keith, who was killed in a plane crash Oct. 3, 2002, in Texarkana, Ark.
“It is hard for me as a Christian to comprehend how a man can shoot a defenseless woman and kill a 5-month-old child still in her womb, who is innocent, has not committed a wrong to anyone, but was killed without trial or mercy,” he said while choking up.
After the law enforcement and other leaders’ remarks, video montages were shown of the victims and testimonials from their family members.
The videos also honored Victims Empowered Inc., a local group dedicated to helping law enforcement with victim rights and services.
“I do want to say to all the victims out there: Please, please understand that we do care,” said Judy Smart, founder of Victims Empowered.
After the videos, family representatives walked up to the podium and retold favorite memories of their lost loved ones.
Kendrick Foster’s family members said he enjoyed tickling his daughter and riding his bicycle.
Foster died after being shot in the head at his Greenwell Springs Road apartment in June 2010.
Foster’s mother, Tasha Foster, did not address the crowd, but her favorite memory in the program showed her son’s love of the color purple, as well as smiling.
Foster said afterward that the ceremony was “wonderful.”
“We need more stuff like this in the community,” she said.
In the Atkins case, Frank Atkins was arrested on one count each of attempted second-degree murder, illegal use of a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
In Tuesday’s homicide, police arrested Adam Sterling, 33, 3615 Chippewa St., Baton Rouge, in the fatal shooting of Shylah Hicks, 21, and her unborn baby outside her home at 1724 Madison Ave.
In the Foster case, an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury has indicted Douglas Dorsey, 19, 3454 Lone Oak Drive, on a count of second-degree murder. His next scheduled court date is Oct. 15.