Victim's mental anguish after witnessing her father's shooting?
(Norristown, PA, USA)
In October 2008, my daughter became a victim of Road Rage, when the vehicle her father was driving cut off another driver and that driver became enraged and shot several times at the vehicle in which my daughter was a passenger. Thankfully, my daughter was not physically hurt in the incident, but was hurt deeper, mentally and emotionally. She goes to counseling because of this incident.
She witnessed her father being shot in the head, and passing out on the expressway. She began screaming for help, and finally someone stopped and helped her and called police. Her father was given a 10% chance of survival, and has made a full recovery. It took a few weeks to track down and arrest the shooter, then they sent him to a mental institution for an evaluation.
This is where my issue comes in, I feel that my daughter's rights as a victim of crime were violated. They sentenced the shooter to the Norristown State Hospital for his evaluation. Unfortunately, they did NOT consider my daughter, because OUR address was located directly across from the Norristown State Hospital, and they still sent him there. This made my daughter very scared and terrified, she didn't want to go outside, or to school, and she would not sleep by herself or be alone in a room by herself.
It was torture for all of us (her, myself and my son). My daughter would peek out the window and make comments "Is that him?", "Is he going to come for me too Mom?" Her attendance and grades were lacking, and she would cry until she vomited when I would attempt to take her to school.
This ordeal was and is very devastating to us and I believe someone should be held responsible for their actions, so that others like my daughter do not have to go through everything she did. My question is "Were my daughter's Crime Victim Rights violated?" and "What are my next steps or options?" Thank you for your time and help in this matter.
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ANSWER for "Victim's mental anguish after witnessing her father's shooting?":
Lori (Norristown, PA, USA):
Unfortunately, your options are limited. The perpetrator was arrested, evaluated, and apparently found incompetent to stand trial. Therefore he was committed to the state mental facility. Any case you or your daughter might have against the state would be barred by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity. Under sovereign immunity the state and its employees are protected from civil claims and lawsuits.
If it's any consolation, there may come a time when the state finds the perpetrator to be competent to stand trial. At that time there is a good chance he will be sentenced to many years in the state penitentiary. We can only hope if that occurs the state penitentiary will be located a great distance from your home. If the perpetrator does eventually become able to assist his attorney with his defense it is likely he may be sentenced to many years in prison.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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