State fund denies claim for Durham shooting victim

jalexander@newsobserver.comSeptember 2, 2013 

  • About the fund

    Victims Compensation Services pays for medical expenses and lost wages as a result of being an innocent victim of a crime committed in North Carolina. Victims of rape, assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence and drunk driving, as well as the families of homicide victims, may apply for financial help.

    The program does not compensate victims for damaged or stolen property or for pain and suffering.

    A maximum of $30,000 may be paid for medical expenses resulting from the crime. A maximum of $5,000 may be paid for funeral expenses when the victim dies as a result of the crime. Benefits for approved claims are paid directly to a service provider.

    Source: N.C. Crime Victims Compensation Services

When Gloria Streeter applied to the state’s crime victims fund after her son was shot, she expected to get help paying the $5,000 left on her son’s funeral bill.

Instead, a month later Street, 61, received a letter saying her claim had been denied.

On April 29, Maurice Streeter, 27, was walking to the Gorilla Ink tattoo shop, on his way back from Church’s Chicken, to meet a friend.

A man came from behind a building and shot him several times in the back in broad daylight, his mother said. Streeter staggered to the door and collapsed. Streeter was her only child.

Police ruled the unsolved killing a homicide.

N.C. Crime Victims Compensation Services reimburses victims of violent crimes for out-of-pocket expenses that result from the crime, including medical, funeral and burial costs, mental health counseling and lost wages or loss of support. The legislature provides an annual appropriation, and gets a federal reimbursement of 60 percent of state dollars paid out the prior year.

The letter from the victims fund said its investigator had found Streeter was “participating in a non-traffic misdemeanor at or about the time (his) injury had occurred.”

According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety website, a crime victim participating in illegal activity or contributory misconduct is ineligible for compensation.

Janice Carmichael, the section chief who denied the claim, said determining whether a victim played a part in his death is hard. The decision is usually made before a trial date.

“It’s only because we talk to the law enforcement and gather the information,” Carmichael said.

Liddie Shropshire, an investigator for the fund, said she could not discuss or release the investigation report. A non-traffic misdemeanor includes such offenses as carrying marijuana or being involved in a fight, she said.

Police investigator A.M. Cristaldi also would not comment on the case, which remains under investigation.

Maurice Streeter had a criminal background dating back to 2002. He was convicted on four different charges, one as recent as 2011 for larceny of a motor vehicle and receiving a stolen vehicle.

But Gloria Streeter said her son was not doing anything wrong when he was killed and that his record should not have affected her claim.

“I don’t know why it was denied,” she said. “He had no weapons; my son was not involved in any gangs. Nothing.”

Marcia Owen, the director for the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, said she sees such denials often.

“Nobody seems to know how they are making their determination,” Owen said. “What we do know is that there is an enormous burden on families being denied.”

Owen held a prayer vigil for the Streeter family Aug. 25 at the site of shooting. More than 70 people attended.

Alexander: 919-932-2008 Twitter: @Jon_M_Alexander

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