District attorney receives

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 13, 2001

distinguished award


Staff Writer

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District Attorney Mark Fuller was recently recognized for his support and activism in the field of victims’ rights.

Beating out the district attorneys of Jefferson and Montgomery counties, Fuller was presented the Miriam Shehane Award by VOCAL, an organization dedicated to fighting for victims’ rights.

Fuller said insuring victims’ rights and aiding them and their families has always been one of his top priorities.

"I am most appreciative and humbled for the recognition," the district attorney said.

Fuller has served both Pike and Coffee counties since being appointed in 1996 and subsequently elected in 1998.

Throughout the year, VOCAL sends out questionnaires to victims they assist and they respond as to the kind of help they received. From those questionnaires, Fuller was one of several names presented to the VOCAL board, which narrowed it down to three, The final decision was made by the Angel House advisory board for recommendations and the VOCAL board makes the final decision.

Fuller was recognized for his "outstanding role" in two separate cases.

At the recognition ceremony, Fuller was described as one who "displays that same determination in the fight, the same compassion for the victims and their families, but above all, understands ‘justice for all, even the victim.’"

According to VOCAL representatives, their office was "swamped with calls and letters" in two cases handled by Fuller.

One of those cases was a drive-by homicide, offering to plea to a lesser offense.

"There were complicating factors that made the offer look attractive. Today’s winner didn’t take the easy way out; instead, he contacted the family and actively sought their input."

Together, they decided to reject the plea and go to trial. In less than 45 minutes, the jury convicted the defendant of murder.

The second case was one "lost to the system, not the victims lost in the system."

That case involved a DUI/murder. Evidence presented included the supposed intoxicated driver hitting a vehicle, killing the passenger and crippling the driver. After refusing to take a plea, the case was tried and the defendant was found "not guilty" by the jury.

Despite the loss in court, Fuller showed "heart felt compassion for the victim" and made the victim’s family a part of the system.

"This year’s recipient best emulates the traits that define the Miriam Shehane Award."

Shehane became involved with victims’ rights in 1976 when her daughter, who had just graduated from Birmingham-Southern College, was abducted, assaulted and murdered.

She helped pass legislation such as the Victim’s Notification Act and the Alabama Crime Victims Bill of Rights.