Debra Wyatt says it’s hard for her to take the advice of an Oklahoma prosecutor that she should consider herself a crime survivor
“I feel like a victim every day,” said Wyatt, whose parents were killed in 2003 in Depew and her sister was killed in a separate slaying two years later.
“It is a whole different kind of grief having someone taken from you,” she said to about 100, many of whom were crime victims, during a rally yesterday at the state Capitol.
The annual event, held as part of Oklahoma Crime Victims Rights Day at the Capitol, was moved indoors because of rainy, windy conditions.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater told those gathered to not think of themselves as victims.
“You are survivors,” he said.
Wyatt’s 43-year-old sister, Linda Cantrell, was shot and killed in 2005 by her boyfriend, who then fatally shot himself.
Wyatt said she misses her parents, A.J. and Patsy Cantrell, every day.
The man convicted of the slayings, Scott Eizember, was sentenced to death for killing Wyatt’s 76-year-old father and sentenced to 150 years in prison for killing her 70-year-old mother.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to hold a dying parent’s hand,” she said. “All of that was taken from me not because he had to, but because he could.”
Eizember, 46, is appealing his death penalty. Wyatt said she fears the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals could order another sentencing trial because his attorneys claim two jurors that sentenced him to die were leaning toward imposing the death penalty before the trial.
Carolyn Taylor said her life changed drastically in 1999 when her husband, Merle G. Taylor, was fatally shot in his Oklahoma City transmission shop as he tried to protect an employee and his daughter-in-law.
She said her work as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate in Oklahoma County helps her deal with her grief.
Also during the event, Warr Acres police Detective Elizabeth Green received a governor’s commendation for working with victims.
“You guys are my inspiration,” Green told the crime victims.