2005 National Crime Victims' Rights Week Award Recipient!

The Honoree received special recognition during the awards ceremony hosted April 8, 2005, by the Office for Victims of Crime to honor victim advocates, organizations, and programs in the field of victim services.

More than 20 years ago, Marcella Nicholas Leach suffered the trauma of both violent victimization and re-victimization by the criminal justice system. On November 30, 1983, her only daughter, Marsalee Ann Nicholas, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend who was stalking her.

A week after the funeral, Marcella ran into the murderer coming out of the market. As it turns out, he had been released on $50,000 bond. Because he lived only two blocks from her, she had to bear the sight of him regularly driving by her house in his new Porsche. Almost 2 years passed before the ex-boyfriend went to trial.

Since this time, Marcella has spent a great deal of her time working to ensure that the injustice of her daughter's case would not befall other family members of homicide victims.

Marcella assumed a role as advocate for strong victims' rights at the local and federal level. She joined Ellen Dunne, whose daughter Dominique was strangled to death by an ex-boyfriend, as a founding board member of Justice for Homicide Victims, Inc.

Through this organization, she has provided support for thousands of crime victims and blocked paroles for many convicted felons.

As vice-chair of Crime Victims United, a California, statewide advocacy group, Marcella has helped to pass dozens of laws that strengthen victims' rights.

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She considers her greatest accomplishment the creation of a huge, marble interactive memorial for homicide victims - where biographies of an unlimited number of these victims can be stored; complete with movies, color photographs and personalized voice narrations.

Above: Congressman Ed Royce talks with representatives from California's Justice for Homicide Victims group that helps and supports victims of crime.

Royce is as long-time advocate for victims' rights. The group was in Washington to support co-founder Marcella Leach who was awarded the National Crime Victim Service Award from the United States Department of Justice during National Crime Victims Rights Week.

Pictured L to R: Tom Vardon, Margerite Hemphill, Jane Bouffard, Lee Bertha Pickett-Allen, Dennis Brown, Ed Royce, Marcella Leach, Arnold Heilemann, Evelyn Heilemann and Leatrice Young.

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