PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- An assistant U.S. Attorney, who's devoted his life to fighting crime, is speaking out about being a victim of violence himself.
As part of National Crime Victims Rights Week, Joe Marquez talked publicly for the first time about being on the other end of the criminal justice system. Marquez says he's developed a greater appreciation for victims' rights.
"I'm just a normal guy who lost his wife and now I have to face all of these things," Marquez said. "All these trials and tribulations like everyone else."
In July 2008, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Marquez was attacked in his Grain Valley, Mo., home, his wife murdered by a friend of his stepson. Police captured Taylor Marquez, 16, and a friend, Eddie George, in Colorado. The two were convicted of stabbing to death 39-year-old Pamela Marquez.
Although the seasoned prosecutor recovered from his physical injuries in the crime, he says being a victim has made him more sensitive to the needs of crime survivors.
"No one understands," Marquez said. "Why does stuff like this happen? Why Taylor? Why his friend Eddie? What was going on in these kids' minds? You don't really know and it's hard to understand. So, our victim advocate was very helpful in explaining things to me."
Marquez says he understands first hand some of frustration that surviving families have with a slow-moving criminal justice system. He recently testified before the Missouri legislature for a bill that would allow juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to be eligible to serve a life prison sentence with no chance for probation or parole.
"The challenge for those of us in prosecution & law enforcement is to identify with victims," said Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd. "What Joe does is he helps open our minds to the fact that we could all become victims. Joe had served victims for years and never imagined that he would become a victim under the horrendous situation that he did."
Despite knowing all the ins-and-outs of the criminal justice system Marquez says it helped having a victim advocate for those times when he just wanted to be a father and husband.