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Be a voice for crime victims: CRIMEFIGHTERS hosting informational meeting Saturday in LaPlace

LAPLACE — When court cases stretch on for years without justice, it’s easy for victims of violent crimes to feel alone in a complicated criminal justice system.

Irvin L. Magri Jr., founder and state president of pro-bono victim’s rights organization CRIMEFIGHTERS, feels disheartened for the families of St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies wounded and killed in August 2012 attacks.

Nearly seven years have passed without a single conviction, according to Magri, who said he is resolute in his quest to bring the suspects to trial this year.

However, community support is needed.

River Parishes residents are invited to a 7 p.m. informational CRIMEFIGHTERS meeting Saturday at Quality Inn of LaPlace, located at 3900 U.S. 51.

Longtime Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter and a representative from the Louisiana Attorney General’s office will serve as guest speakers for the event, which features a community Q&A and free refreshments.

By the meeting’s end, Magri expects visitors will know the CRIMEFIGHTERS mission and how to join the fight. Another LaPlace meeting will follow, Magri said, and a local chapter serving St. John, St. James and St. Charles parishes will soon be established.

“Any questions from the floor will be answered,” Magri said. “They will know what void we fill. The missing link in the criminal justice system right now, the forgotten voice, is the victim. We believe victims should not be treated as second or third class citizens. We are a very integral part of this process.”

As a 54-year law enforcement veteran, Magri will lend his experience to train the newest CRIMEFIGHTERS members.

The group has grown a presence in St. John Parish through the LaPlace Feed Store armed robbery and homicide trial, which concluded in late March five years after store owner Steve Finckbeiner was killed.

Connie Finckbeiner, Steve’s widow and survivor of the violent attack, is working closely with CRIMEFIGHTERS to assist other local victims.

Ed Conran, representative for the tri-parish area, has assisted victims by accompanying them to court dates. CRIMEFIGHTERS representatives connect with judges and policy makers to maintain the right to a fair and speedy trial, while also advocating for stronger laws against violent criminals.

Membership is free, according to Magri, and volunteers are not held to stringent hours.

“Whatever time people can give us, we would appreciate,” Magri said. “We’re not looking for 40 hours a week.”

According to Magri, Edie Triche has agreed to be an active member of the upcoming River Parishes chapter. Her son, Jeremy Triche, was killed in 2012.

“As a retired law enforcement officer, I am aghast that these matters have not gone to trial, and I plan on pushing very hard with not only CRIMEFIGHTERS, Louisiana’s largest victim’s rights organization, but also with other law enforcement agencies,” Magri said.

For more information on CRIMEFIGHTERS, call Ed Conran at 504-559-9007 or Justine Bailey at 504-312-1245.