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Remembering the Victims

Families attend ‘Tree of Hope’ event in Johnstown

April 30, 2009
By RICHARD NILSEN/The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Mary Palmateer of Gloversville came to a crime victims remembrance ceremony Wednesday carrying a photo of her daughter, Wendy Palmateer.

Wendy was murdered in 1981 at age 16 by Craig Winchell, who also was a teenager at the time.

"Every time [Winchell] comes up for parole, we meet with the [parole] board," Mary Palmateer said. "He was sentenced to 18 years to life and we've kept him in for 28 years."

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Mary Palmateer of Johnstown holds a photo of her daughter, Wendy Palmateer, who was murdered in 1981, during the Crime Victims Dedication Ceremony on the lawn of the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Palmateer said she knows her and her family's participation in Winchell's parole proceedings have resulted in at least two extra years being added to Winchell's sentence.

Palmateer and her husband, James, showed up Wednesday with other members of crime victims' families for the dedication of a newly planted tree in front of the Fulton County Courthouse. The "Tree of Hope" was designated in remembrance of local crime victims.

District attorney's office crime victims advocate Stephanie Porter handed out red and purple ribbons to those attending the ceremony.

Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira read a list of 33 names of those who "came to an unexpected end" at the hands of another in the county since 1965.

In her remarks, Sira said it's important for victims' families to be involved in the justice process. She said her two main sources of inspiration are law enforcement officials and victims and their families, whose "support, appearance in court and staying in contact" are important in making the justice system work.

"Through your contact, the victims stay with us," Sira said. "You rise above trial and tribulation after unspeakable loss."

Sira asked for a moment of silence after reading the names of the victims and asking dozens of family members to gather around the young tree. She said the tree was planted in memory of victims of crime and "to bring all of us peace, justice and hope in this life and beyond."

Fulton County Court Judge Richard Giardino said he's assisted since 1986 in some way with about one-third of the victims' cases - either as assistant district attorney, district attorney or county judge.

"I've got two things to say," Giardino said. "One, it's nice to see the turnout for this event. But second, it's sad to see there are so many to honor."

District attorney's office crime victims advocate Randy Smith said victim advocacy rights have increased over the years.

"Victims now have a voice," Smith said.

 
 

 

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