(WBIR) Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign several bills this month inspired by families of crime victims in East Tennessee. Their fight for justice is highlighted through National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 6-12.
The Hope for Victims 6th Annual Vigil and Remembrance Walk took place at Volunteer Landing in Knoxville Sunday afternoon.
People there encouraged others to keep changing and creating laws to help speak for victims of crime.
The Christians and Newsoms have helped push two bills through the House and Senate that aim to reform the state judicial system in memory of their slain children who were tortured and murdered.
Hugh Newsom told the crowd, "Don't give up the effort. Mary and I are here for you."
Several East Tennessee families are still fighting for progress to a bill that would allow violent crime victims' photos in court. Lawmakers recently delayed progress on the Victim Life Photo Bill and sent it to a summer study committee.
"I want my daughter to have a little dignity and everybody see her smiling face and I think all victims deserve that. They were a person before someone took their lives," said Joan Berry, mother of Johnia Berry who was murdered in 2004.
Jo Bruce lost her husband, Ken Bruce, during the Campbell County High School shooting in 2005. Now, the person who shot him, Kenneth Bartley, will be sentenced Monday.
In February, a Hamilton County jury found Bartley guilty of reckless homicide. It is a lesser offense than the first degree murder charge he originally faced.
"I don't have any hope to be perfectly honest. That belongs to him (the judge) now to make the right decision and I guess my hope is that he'll make the right decision, whatever that is," said Jo Bruce, who served as the keynote speaker at Sunday's event.
After the ceremony, family members walked near the Tennessee River. This year's walk was in memory of Jim King, who was a supporter and advocate of victims of crime.
There is a tree planting scheduled for victims of crime at the Volunteer Ministry Center on Thursday at 2 p.m.
Hope for Victims has a support group that meets on the second Monday of every month at Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville at 7 p.m.