Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
Omid Talai, (415) 553-9272

8th Annual Justice Awards Ceremony Held in Recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

San Francisco - In recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón will honor outstanding individuals and organizations today at the District Attorney’s 8th Annual Justice Awards. This year’s theme is “Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim”.

“One of my top priorities as District Attorney is to prevent violent crime and to provide victims with support and resources they need to heal,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “The 8th Annual Justice Awards is an opportunity to honor community members, prosecutors, investigators and police officers for their tireless work and dedication to justice.”

The San Francisco General Hospital Wraparound Project is being honored for their work supporting crime victims.
The project is a hospital-based violence prevention program determined to close the revolving door of violent injury. Nationally, 35-50% of victims of violence are reinjured. The Wraparound Project's focus is to reduce injury recidivism by addressing the root causes and risk factors that lead to violent injury.

Another agency being honored is the Department of Public Health Crisis Response Team for their work addressing crisis and violence. The Crisis Response Team goes to the scene of shootings and homicides and supports victims and family members. They work closely with Advocates from the District Attorney’s office to ensure services and support are provided seamlessly.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart is being honored for his work on People v. Gary Holland, a 2010 murder case in Telegraph Hill. On October 29, 2010 Holland entered the victim’s apartment located on the 900 block of Chestnut Street. He posed as a PG&E utility worker to gain access to the victim’s home. San Francisco Police officers responded to the victim’s residence to check on her well-being. Upon entry, officers discovered her body inside her apartment. Due to the Police Department’s thorough and efficient work preserving the crime scene, DNA evidence found at the scene helped law enforcement link Holland to the crime. Holland pled guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life.

In the case, People v. Umar Hudson, a witness is being recognized for her courage in coming forward to identify a man who killed a woman and sexually assaulted the victim’s children. On April 6, 2007, Defendant Hudson stabbed his girlfriend and the mother of his 16-month old baby 40 plus times on the street in the Alemany Housing Project, weeks after the victim’s two daughters reported he molested them. DNA testing linked Hudson to the molestation. Hudson was arrested at the scene after the witness pointed Hudson out to the police. A jury found Hudson guilty of first degree murder and 4 counts of sexual assault on a minor and received a sentence of 205 years to life. The witness will not be in attendance because the witness is now in the Witness Relocation and Support Program. Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia will be honored for her work prosecuting the case.

District Attorney Investigator Hank McKenzie is being honored for his work investigating hate crimes, specifically for his work on People v. Allen and Meskan, a hate crime case that uncovered a network of organized white supremacist groups in San Francisco. On November 10, 2010, Alex Cauich was waiting for his cousin Jose Omar Cauich outside of the Nitecap Bar on O’Farrell and Hyde Streets in the Tenderloin. Alex was surrounded by a group of white men who began to assault him. Jose came to his defense and was immediately assaulted. Neighbors reported hearing the men yelling “white power” and a witness on the street heard the assailants yelling “run like you run across the border” while chasing the victims. A search of defendant Allen’s apartment subsequent to his arrest revealed assorted Nazi and white supremacist paraphernalia. A jury found Allen and Meskan guilty of felony assault with intent to cause great bodily injury and simple battery.

Mia Tu Mutch, Francisco Rubio, Assistant District Attorney Victor Hwang and Sgt. Katherine Schwarz-Choy are being honored for their work on the case People v. Clark, Perry. On April 1, 2011, the defendants approached the victim, Mia Tu Mutch. When they discovered she is transgender, their demeanor turned ugly and racial slurs were said. When the victim turned away to text a friend, defendant Jackson snatched her phone and punched her several times in the face. When the victim attempted to get help from the crowd, defendant Perry punched her in the face. As the defendants walked away, they say “I hate men dressed up like women”. An independent witness, Francisco Rubio followed the defendants until the police arrested them. Judge Chan discharged the felony hate crime but certified misdemeanor hate crime charges. Felony hate crime allegations were added to the information. Defendants pled guilty to assault with force likely to cause bodily injury and misdemeanor hate crime charges for probation and anger management and sensitivity programs.