Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007
VFW, inn help with expenses
By SUE WATSON
The Collins-Hurdle VFW Post 5697 and Ladies Auxiliary teamed up with Courtsquare Inn Bed and Breakfast to help accommodate two people from the Shriner’s Hospital in Texas with expenses during their recent appearance at a criminal trial in circuit court.
The contributions from the community helped a witness for a burn victim and the foster parent of the victim attend the three-day trial, according to Diane Dickerson, with Crime Victim’s Compensation.
She thanked the VFW and Shriners and Lisa Liddy, owner of the Courtsquare Inn, for their contributions, which helped defray the expenses of the two travelers.
“Crime Victim’s Compensation will not pay for the foster mother from Texas to attend the trial,” Dickerson said. “These are out-of-pocket expenses and they were the ones taking care of our child. What I’m trying to do is help make things right.”
The burn victim was transferred to the Shriner’s Hospital in Texas from Memphis, where the child continues to receive treatments and surgeries for his injuries. The mother charged in this case was convicted of felony child abuse and sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary.
Dickerson said Mississippi is trying to get a burn center back in the state, but for now, Mississippians who are burned and their families have to travel out of state for expert and life-saving care - all which is costly.
“It’s a daily thing (with burns) and a hard thing as far as the scabs and scars are concerned,” Dickerson said. “Bill Janssen was generous in helping me get this money to pay on the room. It costs Marshall County a lot of money and foster parents are out so much taking care of the victim.”
Janssen and Liddy said they were glad to assist.
“We’re just all about service and do as much as we can and as far as our funds can take us,” Janssen said. “The Shriners help with transportation fees for patients and immediate family to the hospital. I think it’s important for everyone to know we don’t have a burn center in Mississippi anymore.”
He said the VFW charities do more for phone cards for U.S. military service men and women serving overseas while the Ladies’ Auxiliary contributes more to the Shriners’ burn centers.
“I was glad to help,” said Liddy, who provided discounts for the guests’ stay.
Dickerson said it is her responsibility to coordinate travel and overnight accommodations for victims and witnesses who come to court.
“I’m in need of help to do things for victims, especially children,” she said. “Anyone who is a crime victim can contact me or the District Attorney’s office.”
Circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter said judges can order defendants to pay up to but not more than $100 restitution, money that goes to the state’s Victims Compensation Fund.
The fund has rules that apply to all counties; however, a judge can allow an expenditure from the fund if for unusual expenses or those not covered by the guidelines.
She said the medical doctor from the Shriners’ Hospital in Galveston, Texas, did not charge the court for his time at the trial of the accused mother but did receive compensation for his accommodations while in Holly Springs.
“It’s very unusual for an expert witness to volunteer his time,” she said. “Normally the court would pay for expert testimony.”
Carpenter added, “I think it is important for the community to know that criminal defendants are helping pay for the damage they’ve done.”
She added that the Courtsquare Inn is very conveniently located near the courthouse for the two guests.
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