Crime victims' fund can help, but not in all cases

June 6, 2012 3:55:15 PM PDT
We hear about crime every day affecting people in our county. Sometimes arrests are made, but it fades from headlines. Eyewitness News has the story of one man recovering from a robbery and it's not an easy road to travel.

Many victims' lives are in upheaval and without the means to recover.

"I went to the trash can to get my mail and that's when it happened," said Victor Velez.

Three weeks ago, Velez's life changed. It began with a trip to the grocery store and it ended in his driveway with a gun in his face.

"He hit me with the gun, cut me and he cocked his gun and said, 'You're gonna die,'" Velez said.

There were two assailants -- one with a gun, the other kicking him, but Velez fought back.

"Because I thought they were going inside my house... my daughters, my two daughters," he said.

The pair who robbed him took his SUV and within a few hours had robbed a woman and run from deputies in the stolen Jeep and wrecked it during the chase. Velez survived, but life is not the same. The bone around one eye is fractured.

"I can't see. I get double vision," Velez said.

He's back at work, but he has no car. He carried only liability insurance because his Jeep was 14 years old. His elderly parents sometimes have to drive him. There are the medical bills for what isn't covered by his health insurance.

He is a hardworking single father whose story represents so many lives in this economy, without room for financial surprises or the means to recover from the crime. The two suspects are in jail, but he's paying the price.

"And I just want to know why and for what reason," Velez said.

When someone is convicted of a crime in Texas, they pay a fine that goes into the crime victims compensation fund. Last year in Harris County, just under 3,300 requests for help were approved with a total payout of $17.5 million.

Among the needs it addresses are: medical and nursing home care as a result of injury during a crime, loss of wages and funeral expenses.

What it doesn't cover is property loss as a result of crime. And Velez is caught in the middle of that Catch 22.

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