Orange County District Attorney Press Release
For Immediate Release: April 26, 2013
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) hosted the 5th Annual Victims’ Rights March & Rally today in remembrance of murdered victims, in celebration of surviving victims, and in honor of victims’ rights. Over 450 victims, family, friends, law enforcement, and community leaders marched from the District Attorney’s Office to the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana and laid flowers at the foot of a memorial wreath to honor and celebrate the lives of murdered and surviving victims.
The Orange County Victims’ Rights March & Rally was established in 2009 after almost two decades of legal efforts to secure the rights of crime victims. In 1990, Proposition 115 increased defendant sentences and decreased the number of times a victim had to testify. In 1996, Megan’s Law required sex offender registration and gave parents and the community access to sex offender residence addresses in their neighborhoods. In 2000, Proposition 21 increased the punishments for serious and dangerous gang crimes. In 2004, Proposition 69 required felony arrestees to submit a DNA sample and Proposition 66, which would have allowed the release of dangerous third-strikers, was defeated. In 2006, Proposition 83, or Jessica’s Law, instituted mandatory 15 years to life sentences for certain serious sex offenses against children. In 2008, Marsy’s Law codified victims’ rights into the California Constitution.
This year, the OCDA announced the launch of the OCDA’s HEAT Unit, or Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit, which will use a four-pronged tactical plan to target the perpetrators of human trafficking and exploitation using new legal tools available under California’s new Proposition 35, or the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act, passed in November 2012. The tactical plan, PERP, will focus on Prosecution, Education, Resources, and Publicity. To read more about the OCDA’s HEAT Unit, visit www.orangecountyda.com and select from the homepage under Press Releases/Media Advisories the April 26, 2013, press releases titled, “OCDA to Put Their ‘HEAT’ on Slave-Owner Perps.”
“We are a community of survivors, and there will always be more of us than criminals. We are never going to stop working to protect others from suffering, and we will continue to stand up for victims – of human trafficking, murder, sexual assault, and all the crimes that you are here speaking out against today,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “This process is not a choice, it’s a promise, and we will not easily be deterred as long as there are new victims and new crimes.”
The March & Rally included a Presentation of the Colors by the Santa Ana Police Department Honor Guard, Pledge of Allegiance by Senator Lou Correa, National Anthem by Deputy District Attorney Anna Chinowth, Moment of Silence by Vice-Chair of the California State Board of Equalization Michelle Park Steel, and acknowledgement of victims’ rights organizations by State Senator Mimi Walters.
The keynote speakers were Dr. Henry Nicholas III, brother of murder victim Marsy Nicholas, and Rachel Alvarado, mother of murder victim Lanette Alvarado.
Dr. Henry Nicholas III
Dr. Henry Nicholas III, is the co-founder of Broadcom, an entrepreneur, business leader, philanthropist, and a nationally recognized victims’ rights advocate. He has been deeply committed to victims’ rights since 1983, when his younger sister, Marsy, was brutally murdered. Henry was the chief architect of California’s Marsy’s Law, which serves as a model in the effort to pass a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to protect victims nationwide.
Dr. Nicholas helped his mother Marcella Leach build Justice for Homicide Victims, which counsels victims’ families and has successfully advocated for change in the judicial system. In 2004, he passionately fought to defeat Proposition 66 and was honored by law enforcement agencies and advocates across the state, including District Attorney Rackauckas and the OCDA, for his work on that campaign. He is also a recipient of the Ronald Reagan Award for Pioneering Achievement in Criminal Justice and has received awards from Crime Victims United of California, the National Crime Victims’ Institute, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, among many others.
Dr. Nicholas was a major supporter of Jessica’s Law, and he has actively lobbied the California legislature to support tougher laws that require violent offenders to serve their full sentence.
Rachel Alvarado’s daughter Lanette Alvarado was a 23-year-old mother to two young children. One week prior to the murder, Lanette Alvarado’s former boyfriend, Miguel Vargas, was convicted of domestic violence against her.
On Feb. 5, 2009, Vargas drove to Lanette Alvarado’s home and murdered her by stabbing her 20 times in the back of her head, neck, and back, as her 4 and 6-year-old children watched in horror. After the murder, Vargas fled to Tijuana, Mexico, and it took a multi-agency effort to locate him and bring him back. During the jury trial, the defendant left threatening messages for the prosecutor, yelled and cursed at the judge, physically fought against the deputies attempting to restrain him, and taunted Lanette Alvarado’s family by staring at them in court and making outlandish claims that Lanette was still alive.
Vargas was a documented gang member and was prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Dave Porter of the TARGET Unit, a specialized team that targets the most violent, active criminal street gang members. Vargas was convicted by a jury in 2012 and sentenced to 73 years to life in state prison.
Rachel Alvarado attended every court hearing to ensure justice was served for Lanette. Rachel Alvarado is raising the victim’s two children with the help of Lanette’s siblings, and has found support and strength through relationships built through Parents of Murdered Children.
Co-Sponsors and Donors
The OCDA would like to pay special thanks to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Santa Ana Police Department for their time, service, and support to the 2013 Victims’ Rights March and Rally.
For their contributions, the OCDA would also like to thank the Orange County Fire Authority, OC Parks, Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys – Civic Action Committee, Orange County District Attorney Investigators Association, Community Service Programs, Inc., Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Susan Kang Schroeder, and Starbucks. This event was hosted at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
The OCDA would like to thank and recognize the keynote speakers from the past Orange County Victims’ Rights Marches.
- 2009 – Collene Campbell, an active victims rights advocate, founded Memory Of Victims Everywhere, or MOVE, after the unrelated murders of her brother, Mickey Thompson, and son, Scott Campbell.
- 2009 – Erin Runnion founded The Joyful Child Foundation to protect children from being victimized after her 5-year-old daughter, Samantha Runnion, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered.
- 2009 – Ruth Allen served on the Board of Directors of Parents of Murdered Children Inc., after her husband, Philip Cousins, was murdered in 1994 and his case was prosecuted over 15 years later after technological advances linked Mr. Cousins’ killer to the murder weapon.
- 2010 – Ryan Hawks is the son of Thomas and Jackie Hawks, who were murdered for financial gain on their yacht off Newport Beach. In 2010, Ryan Hawks was Co-Chair of California Force 100 and represented his parents through three jury trials against five defendants.
- 2010 – Chimine Arfuso was the last of eight young women to be raped by a serial rapist. In 2010, Arfuso was a victim advocate through her work as Co-Founder of Create Social Change and Chairwoman of Turning Negative Into Positive.
- 2011 – Elaina Kroll, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by her church choir director, is the founder of the Innocence Mission, which works to educate parents and community members about the danger of child sexual assault and empower survivors to report abuse to stop the cycle of sex crimes against children.
- 2011 – Lance Frazee’s 16-year-old daughter Mackenzie was murdered by a 17-year-old drunken driver. In honor of his daughter, Frazee founded the Mackenzie Frazee Foundation to award scholarships to victims of drunken driving and speaks to community groups and schools on the dangers of drinking and driving.
- 2012 – In 2012, Donna Bjoin was serving as a volunteer in the major crimes division as a Victims Advocate Assistant for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office and conducting outreach to victims regarding support services in honor of her sister Katherine O’Connell, who was murdered in 1983 by her estranged husband.
- 2012 – Alisa was brutally sexually assaulted in 2002 by three 17-year-old defendants, who videotaped their crime. Ten years after she was sexually assaulted, Alisa spoke publicly for the first time at the Rally. In 2012, she was a state-certified sexual assault victim advocate and crisis intervention counselor and volunteering with the non-profit Project Sister Family Services assisting sexual assault victims.
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff