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Marcella Leach

2005 National Crime Victims’ Service Awards | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Marcella Leach | National Crime Victim Service Award
Justice for Homicide Victims, Inc.
Malibu, California

More than 20 years ago, Marcella Nicholas Leach suffered the trauma of both violent victimization and re-victimization by the criminal justice system. 

On November 30, 1983, her only daughter, Marsalee Ann Nicholas, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend who was stalking her. A week after the funeral, Leach ran into the murderer coming out of the market. As it turns out, he had been released on $50,000 bond. Because he lived only two blocks from her, she had to bear the sight of him regularly driving by her house in his new Porsche. Almost 2 years passed before the ex-boyfriend went to trial. 

Since this time, Leach has spent a great deal of her time working to ensure that the injustice of her daughter's case would not befall other family members of homicide victims. Leach assumed a role as advocate for strong victims' rights at the local and federal level. 

She joined Ellen Dunne, whose daughter Dominique was strangled to death by an ex-boyfriend, as a founding board member of Justice for Homicide Victims, Inc. Through this organization, she has provided support for thousands of crime victims and blocked paroles for many of their convicted felons. 

As vice-chair of Crime Victims United, a statewide advocacy group, Leach has helped to pass dozens of laws that strengthen victims' rights. She considers her greatest accomplishment the creation of a huge marble interactive memorial for homicide victims where biographies of an unlimited number of these victims can be stored; complete with movies, color photographs, and the survivors' voice. 

Most recently, Leach led a publicity campaign to defeat a proposition that would have weakened the state's Three Strikes law by releasing 26,000 violent criminals into the community and reducing the number of "strikes" for multiple murders to one. A survivor herself, Leach has taught people throughout California that victims deserve better. 

Leach was nominated by Arnold Heileman, Vice President of Justice for Homicide Victims, Inc., with support from Pete Wilson, 36th governor of California.