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Julia Dunkins and Justin Todd Fennell

2012 Special Courage Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Julia Dunkins and Justin Todd Fennell | Special Courage Award 
Washington, DC

Julia Dunkins is richly deserving of recognition for her extraordinary support for survivors of homicide, as well as her heroic efforts to assist a particular victim/survivor, Justin Fennell, after a brutal shooting that killed his brother and left him severely injured. In turn, Justin deserves to be honored for his courage and perseverance as a shooting victim and homicide survivor who helped to bring the murderer to justice. 

Ms. Dunkins is no stranger to homicide. In 1969, her husband was murdered in Washington DC. In 1993, her son from that marriage was murdered in Washington, DC.  She is one the founders of a non-profit organization named Survivors of Homicide (SOH), which the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia calls a source of help and comfort to "thousands of families suffering the pain of a homicide.” 

She runs monthly support groups, conducts sensitivity training, hosts holiday parties for families of homicide victims, and advocates for and supports families with their immediate needs after a homicide. She is also an active member of the DC Homicide Coalition, which has gained the respect of local law enforcement and victim services agencies.  In addition to her day-to-day support of hundreds of families, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia noted her tremendous positive impact on one victim and the trial of his attacker. 

In August 2008, Ms. Dunkins heard gunshots and saw the attacker's car racing away. She called 911 and ran to assist two young men who were shot—one fatally—supporting the survivor until help arrived. Later she testified at the trial, helping obtain a conviction. 

Justin, the surviving victim, underwent extensive medical treatment while coping with the loss of his brother. He courageously testified in court against the defendant. Although his fine arts education was interrupted, he was able to graduate from college in 2011 and hopes to pursue a career as a courtroom artist.