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Tree at park used to remember Alaska crime victims

Posted: May 7, 2013 - 11:08pm

ANCHORAGE — A chokecherry tree in an Anchorage park is again sprouting colorful ribbons in remembrance of Alaska’s crime victims.

The tree was the center of attention Monday during the annual Victims for Justice Tree Ceremony at the Delaney Park Strip. The ceremony is held as part of Alaska Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

The tree was a sapling when donated in 1987 to remember crime victims. Each year, it is adorned with different colored ribbons, each color representing a particular type of crime, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Taylor Winston tied a black ribbon on the tree in remembrance of a 6-month-old boy whose father was accused of killing him. The father was acquitted at trial.

Winston, the prosecutor in the case, said she never found out why the jury acquitted the father.

She said she participated in Monday’s ceremony because “nobody was ever there for that child.”

Winston heads the State of Alaska Office of Victims’ Rights. The office is funded by money taken from the Permanent Fund dividends of convicted criminals.

Susan Sullivan, head of Victims for Justice, said Alaska is on the forefront of the victims’ rights movement, leading much of the country when it comes to matters such as restitution and the ability of victims to speak at bail and sentencing hearings.

She credited Winston’s office with helping to lead the way.

Glen Klinkhart attended the ceremony. On Easter weekend of 1981, his 17-year-old sister, Dawn Klinkhart, was raped and murdered in the family’s Hillside home. More than a decade later, Klinkhart became an Anchorage police detective.

He said there is more support and resources for crime victims now. They can even have someone stand with them in the courtroom, he said.

“That wasn’t available to my parents,” Klinkhart said.

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