Candlelight vigil draws attention to victims of violent crime

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Many victims of violent crime live to tell their tale and others like the family of Shoncoven Smith tell his instead.{} Thursday night they all gathered together to bring attention to victim's rights.

"This year in July - the 30th of July, he'll be 23," said Jill Alexander, grandmother of Shoncoven Smith.

But Smith won't turn 23 this year because on January 25, 2014, Smith was allegedly gunned down by Steven Hayes at the corner of Elam & 33rd Streets.{} Hayes reportedly shot him over a car stereo.

On Thursday, Smith's six children, his family and friends all lit candles, joined by a community of victims much like themselves.

"When you get together as a group, that's very helpful," said Alexander.

Alexander said the event put on by the Crime Victims Assistance Association of Arkansas, is just one thing that helps to give her closure.

"Steven Hayes shot him three times," lamented Alexander.{} "Once in the arm, one in the chest and when he fell he shot him in his head."

But victims like the Smith family wouldn't know about how he died or the custody status of Smith's killer if it weren't for victim rights and victim advocates like Kandi Hause with Little Rock Police.

"A lot of the defendants, a lot of people who commit the crimes have lots of rights under our constitution - victims within Arkansas didn't until 1998," said Hause.

Hause said by lighting candles, they want to bring awareness to those rights victims have, because for families like Shoncoven Smith's, moving on isn't easy.

"It's one of those that goes across all lines," said Hause.{} "It doesn't matter what neighborhood you live in, it doesn't matter how much money you make, it doesn't matter the color of your skin - everyone's been affected by crime at some point in their life," said Hause.

Major police departments like Little Rock and North Little Rock have crime victim advocates on staff, but many rural departments don't.{} Hause said all victims still have the same rights and all county prosecutors offices have victim advocates on staff to help those affected by crime.{} Hause said it's your right to ask advocates for help.