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April 5, 2016


An Important Month for Crime Victims
This month, Pima County, along with communities across the nation, will commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 10-16, 2016.  The theme of this year’s observance is Serving Victims. Building Hope. Reserving Trust.  April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, every 1.6 seconds someone in the United States becomes the victim of a crime. This statistic is a sobering reminder that crime affects us all.  It is an unfortunate fact that most of us have either been a victim of crime or know someone who has.  And, the experience of being victimized can be devastating.
When this Office created one of the first victim services programs in the U.S. in 1975, crime victims had no legal rights, and there were few specialized services or community resources available to help them through their ordeal.  That changed in 1990, when Arizona voters passed an initiative adding a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights to the Arizona Constitution.  Today, our victims’ rights protections in Arizona are among the most robust in the nation.  Victims now have the legal right to attend all court proceedings, to know the defendant’s release status, to express their opinions to the court, to be informed about the progress of a case, and to confer with the prosecutor about the disposition of charges.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is an occasion to renew our commitment to victims’ rights, to remember and honor the victims of crime, and to acknowledge those who advocate on their behalf.  I invite you to participate in some of the many worthwhile activities in our community this month aimed at raising awareness of victims’ rights, promoting efforts to prevent violence, and supporting nonprofit agencies in Pima County that help victims of crime rebuild their lives.

Victim Assistance Organizations
The Pima County Attorney's Office works closely with these victim service providers to help victims through the criminal justice process.
Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center (SACAC)
Since inception in 1996, the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center has been a vital partner and an important link in providing forensic and advocacy services to child victims of violent crime throughout southern Arizona. Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall was instrumental in the creation and development of SACAC. 

SACAC is a one-stop, child-friendly center where child victims are brought in for forensic interviews by law enforcement officers and detectives, for medical examinations, and for support services. The Pima County Attorney’s Office is informed about the progress of the investigation of each case from the beginning to ensure the best likelihood for a successful prosecution.  At SACAC, victims are treated with dignity and receive compassionate age-appropriate services that help them survive and thrive and are designed to ensure they are not further traumatized by the legal system. 
The Pima County Attorney’s Office works closely with SACAC in connection with multidisciplinary investigations of child abuse and relies on SACAC personnel to provide necessary advocacy and case management services to more than 1,200 child victims of crime each year.
Homicide Survivors Inc.
Homicide Survivors Inc. is a nonprofit victim assistance organization dedicated to meeting crisis and long-term needs of families of murder victims. Through support, advocacy, and assistance, Homicide Survivors helps survivors cope emotionally, stabilize economically, and seek justice for their loved ones. Homicide Survivors is committed to ensuring that no one has to endure the murder of a loved one alone.  Homicide Survivors has served victims in Tucson and southern Arizona since 1982.  It offers services at no charge to all survivors of homicide.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office - whose staff and volunteers support, advocate for, and assist families and friends of murder victims - works very closely with Homicide Survivors.
Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse
Since April 2008, Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse has been at the forefront of providing effective services to all survivors of domestic abuse and their children. As the exclusive provider of comprehensive domestic abuse services in southern Arizona, Emerge! has assisted survivors of domestic abuse in Pima County and surrounding areas, providing services such as: a 50-bed crisis shelter; two community-based walk-in sites; extensive case management services; lay legal advocacy; a children’s domestic abuse program; assistance in obtaining and retaining permanent housing; volunteer/internship program; community education programs; and housing programs. Emerge! and the Pima County Attorney's Office have an extensive collaboration history.
The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)
The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault is the largest provider of services for sexual violence victims in Arizona. SACASA provides bilingual/bicultural programs to help reduce the trauma and incidence of sexual violence. These programs include: crisis services, advocacy support, therapy, and education services for victims of sexual violence and families impacted by sexual trauma.  SACASA provides a safe place for survivors to heal, gain strength, learn coping skills, and develop trusting, caring relationships.
April 9, 2016 - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March for Children. Casa de los Ninos Family Fiesta. Reid Park Band Shell.  Call 520-624-5600 or
April 9, 2016 - 5 to 9 p.m. 88-Crime Annual Dinner. Desert Diamond Casino, 7350 S. Nogales Hwy. Contact Linda McCollum at 520-740-5617.
April 12, 2016 - 5:30 to 8 p.m. UA Take Back the Night. Women’s Plaza at The University of Arizona. U of A Oasis Program. Contact Nick Taras at 520-626-1829 or  
April 17, 2016 - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Charity Bowling Tournament for Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center. Golden Pin Lanes, 1010 W. Miracle Mile. Call Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center at 520-243-6420.
April 17, 2016 - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Charity Bowling Tournament for Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center. Golden Pin Lanes, 1010 W. Miracle Mile. Call Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center at 520-243-6420.
April 20, 2016 - Dine Out for Safety for Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault. Eat at a participating restaurant and a portion of your bill goes to SACASA! For a list of restaurants or to volunteer:
April 23, 2016 - 7 to 11 p.m. Annual Denim Day Live Art Event. Artists will be painting jeans worn by models at venues on 4th Avenue. Contact Kate Meyer at 520-891-9639 or
April 27, 2016 - Denim Day. Wear denim to show your support for survivors of sexual assault.
April 30, 2016 - 6 to 8 p.m. Homicide Survivors’ Candlelight Vigil. Children’s Memorial Park, Oracle and River. Call 520-207-5012 or
Prosecutor Profile
Alan Goodwin - Supervisor of the Special Victims Unit
Alan Goodwin is Supervisor of the Special Victims Unit in the Pima County Attorney’s Office. Alan, who received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1998, has more than 17 years of litigation experience with the Pima County Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Air Force, the State of Arizona, the State of Alaska, and private practice.
Alan and the prosecutors whom he supervises in the Special Victims Unit handle cases involving child victims, vulnerable adults, and sexual assaults.  Alan’s role, as supervising attorney, is to prosecute and assist others in the prosecution of cases involving homicide, aggravated assault, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, child physical abuse, and online child enticement, among other crimes.  Alan has trained not only prosecutors, but also police officers and detectives, forensic nurses, victim advocates, and defense attorneys on proper investigation, handling, and prosecution of sexual assault cases and on the presentation of forensic evidence. 
Most recently, Alan successfully prosecuted Sophia and Fernando Richter, a couple who held their three children captive and abused them inside their Tucson home; they were convicted of three counts of Kidnapping and three counts of Child Abuse. Fernando Richter was also found guilty of two counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument. Sophia Richter was sentenced to 20 years and Fernando Richter was sentenced to 58 years in state prison. 
In addition to his work at the Pima County Attorney's Office, Alan is a Reserve Judge Advocate General providing legal advice and counsel for the Air Force.
Laura Penny - Director of Victim Services Division
Laura Penny is the Director of the Victim Services Division of the Pima County Attorney's Office.  She supervises a staff of two dozen full-time victim advocates and approximately 100 volunteers, who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide on-scene response, telephonic crisis intervention support, and critical services to victims of crimes and witnesses, as well as court advocacy and assistance in obtaining victim compensation. 
Laura is the Office’s primary liaison to community-based agencies that provide direct services to victims of crime, such as Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, and Homicide Survivors.
As a homicide survivor herself, Laura has a personal connection to her work.  Laura’s brother was murdered in a hate crime in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1996.  Laura is passionate about supporting victims throughout the criminal justice system.  And her passion comes across in the dedication, commitment, and professionalism she displays in her work.
Laura is well known in Arizona as someone with a long and distinguished history as a highly respected leader in the social service and education fields.  Before being named as the County Attorney’s Victim Services Director in 2015, Laura served for a decade as Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona where she was responsible for all programs, grant-making, fundraising, public relations, and financial management. 
Laura is active in many causes in the community.  She has received numerous honors for her personal and professional contributions to southern Arizona, including the YWCA Woman on the Move Award in 2001 and the Inside Tucson Business Woman of Influence Award in 2006.  In her free time, Laura is an avid hiker; she completed an all-woman rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike in September 2014.
Colleen Phelan - Victim Advocate
Colleen Phelan has almost 11 years of experience as an advocate for victims of crime, particularly those who have survived sexual assault and child abuse. She joined the Pima County Attorney’s Office Victim Services Division after working with the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault.  Because of her background and expertise, Colleen is routinely assigned to assist victims in cases prosecuted by the Special Victims Unit.  Colleen also has assumed the responsibility of being the primary handler for one of Pima County’s Courthouse Dogs, Blake, who helps calm and comfort child victims/survivors. 
Colleen is a fierce and compassionate advocate, working with the most vulnerable and voiceless crime victims – children who have suffered physical and sexual abuse and adults who have suffered sexual assault. Her unwavering belief in the strength and resilience of victims and their ability to survive empowers them to face their abusers in court and help hold them accountable.
This past year, Colleen provided extraordinary support during the investigation and successful prosecution of parents who confined their three daughters in two bedrooms for more than two years. During their confinement, the girls were subjected to unspeakable physical and emotional abuse, resulting in severe emotional and mental health consequences for the girls. Colleen was with the girls shortly after their escape and helped them through the process of overcoming what they endured. During the pretrial process, Colleen was a constant presence for the girls, offering both support and insight about the road ahead. At trial, Colleen’s support and compassion empowered the girls to confront the defendants in court and testify to the atrocities they endured, testimony that helped prove the guilt of both defendants.
Linda Luke - Special Victims Unit Paralegal
Linda Luke is an extremely gifted paralegal in the Special Victims Unit of the Pima County Attorney’s Office.  Linda has been employed by the Office since 1997, and has provided paralegal support for some of the Office’s most complex and high profile cases.  Linda carries the largest caseload in the Special Victims Unit, including all SVU capital cases and Sexually Violent Person cases.  In 2015, Linda’s work was crucial to the success of several significant cases.  Specifically, in two abusive head trauma cases – State v. Riggin and State v. Fimbres – Linda reviewed and evaluated voluminous medical records and created complete and organized medical books that were invaluable during trial.
Dubbed the medical guru by fellow SVU paralegals, Linda is an essential source of knowledge, expertise, and experience for attorneys, paralegals, and secretaries.  Last year, Linda teamed with the SVU supervisor to train the unit on computer forensics, abusive head trauma, sexually violent person(s) cases, and DNA evidence.  She also led the team of SVU paralegals in creating a training program for Pima County’s Multidisciplinary Task Force, which investigates/supports children and sexual assault victims.  She spearheaded meetings with the Department of Child Safety to clarify and standardize disclosure and appropriate redactions of their documentation.
Linda’s excellent work was recognized by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Counsel, which named her Paralegal of the Year in 2015.  
From the Courtroom
A jury found David Wayne Brown guilty of three counts of Armed Robbery for crimes he committed over the course of three days in April 2013. Brown entered three Quik Marts and robbed the clerks of money and cigarettes while simulating a gun inside his jacket pocket. Each robbery was captured on surveillance video. One video showed Brown smoking a cigarette and flicking the butt to the ground before entering the store. Tucson Police Department collected that cigarette butt as evidence, had it analyzed, and the DNA profile returned as a match to Brown.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy County Attorney Kelly McInroy.  Brown was sentenced on November 2, 2015, by Superior Court Judge Howard Fell to 9.25 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

On November 10, 2015, a jury found Alvaro Flores-Cento guilty of Burglary in the First Degree, Theft, Possession of a Weapon by a Prohibited Possessor, Possession of Burglary Tools, Theft of a Firearm, Possession of a Narcotic Drug, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  Flores-Cento broke into an elderly man’s home while he was present. He stole electronics, firearms, and jewelry. Flores-Cento was found later that day with a glove and a piece of the victim’s jewelry on him. A backpack associated with Flores-Cento was found nearby containing the matching glove, drugs, the stolen firearms, and more jewelry.

This crime was committed while Flores-Cento was on parole for another felony. This case was prosecuted by Frederick Sterling Struckmeyer. Flores-Cento was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lee to 15.75 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

A jury found Juan Jose Vargas-Capitan guilty on October 23, 2015, of Aggravated Assault, Armed Robbery, Attempted Armed Robbery, Burglary in the First Degree, and two counts of Kidnapping. A woman and her 12 year old daughter were watching TV at home on a Saturday morning when Vargas-Capitan entered their home looking for money and electronic tablets. He attempted to stab the woman and taped up her hands and feet in front of her daughter, who was able to escape and ran to a neighbor’s home.

On January 8, 2016, Vargas-Capitan was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Richard Nichols to 20.5 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections. This case was prosecuted by Deputy County Attorney Rona Kreamer.

On January 29, 2016, a jury convicted Gerald Rodriguez Duran of Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault, Armed Robbery, and two counts of Sexual Assault.  In April 2014, Duran walked up behind his victim, held a gun to her head, and forced her to a secluded area. Duran told her that if she made any noise he would kill her. Then, at gunpoint, Duran sexually assaulted her. Duran was linked to the assault by DNA analysis. This case was prosecuted by Deputy County Attorneys Lauren Pylipow and Jonathan Mosher.

Duran is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on May 2, 2016, before Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry, where Duran faces mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole until 35 years in prison are served.
In this Issue:
Homicide Survivors
Contact Us:

32 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, Arizona 85701
(520) 740-5600
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