Crime victims honored as heroes


Six crime victims were recognized Wednesday – and there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Their stories pull at the heart strings, but also inspire people to be courageous in the face of crime. Azalyea Duran was just eight years old when she was forced to show bravery many adults couldn't. In December of 2012, Azalyea woke up to a nightmare.
“I was sleeping and I heard my mom scream, so I woke up and went out and I told this guy to stop stabbing my mom.”
Her mother's attacker then turned to her.
“He went to the kitchen and started stabbing me. When he first stabbed me, I fell back and hit my head.”
Azaylea was stabbed 27 times; she and her mother, Antonia, were later found by Azaylea's older brother. Antonia was dead. While still recovering, this young, brave girl helped prosecutors identify and convict her mother's killer. Azalyea is just one of six crime victims being honored as a Citizen of Courage by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
“This is why we, as prosecutors, do what we do,” stated Dumanis, “because we want to save victims. We want to be with victims every step of the way and we have victims services to help emotional paramedics.”
Like in the case of John and Mary Cates. The elderly couple was attacked, and John was forced to make a tough decision to leave his wife while he went to get help. 
All six of these local heroes also played an important role in convicting the criminals. Sean Simpson – a carjacking victim – testified against the gang member who shot him multiple times and left him dying in a parking lot.
“When I testified, I had to keep my mind looking at somebody else. When I went through the preliminary, I looked at him and everything I could think of that was bad just popped in my head.”
For Daniel Wagner, it was his courageous instinct to stop and help after witnessing a horrible crash on the interstate in the middle of the night.
“So I grab a woman's hand – she's disoriented and shaken up, so I help her up and out of the car and she tells me that her family is still inside. The next one that crawls to the door is the husband, and he's blood-coated and he's pretty messed up, looking, and I take his hand and help him out.”
Daniel also managed to pull the couple's 13-year-old boy to safety right before they witnessed a second crash at the scene, killing the boy's parents. Their stories will continue to inspire others to be brave in the face of danger and, in the words of brave little Azalyea, “I can tell them be brave, be yourself, and… be like me.”
There was a sixth honoree, a victim of human trafficking, who didn't want to be on camera but all of these victims are helped through the D.A.'s Victim Assistance Division. Last year, victim advocates reached out to more than 14,500 victims.


Categories: KUSI