It’s been a year and a half since Debra Plummer’s granddaughter was killed, shot outside her Macon apartment building.
Terrilyn Williams, the girl she’d raised from the age of 12, had grown into a young woman, a 20-year-old mother of four young children.
Williams’ oldest child, 7-year-old Tavoris, still cries for his mother, who died Sept. 22, 2010, Plummer said.
The sense of loss is still strong for Plummer, who sat through the trial of the teenager who fired the gun that cut short her granddaughter’s life.
She visits Williams’ grave at Macon Memorial Park seasonally, on holidays and on her granddaughter’s birthday to decorate it with flowers.
“Pink was her favorite color,” Plummer said. “I miss her.”
On Monday, Plummer will travel to the Georgia Department of Corrections headquarters in Forsyth to speak with parole board members, share pictures of her slain granddaughter and talk about the two people convicted in her killing.
A Victims Visitors’ Day is being held beginning at 10 a.m. in conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Since the first victims’ day was held in Macon in 2006, crime victims and their families have been given the opportunity to learn more about offenders’ cases, register to receive notifications of parole hearings and ask questions about prison life and the parole process, said Shalandra Robertson, director of Victim Services for the state Department of Corrections and Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Often victims have questions about an offender’s sentence or want a better understanding of prison life, she said.
Representatives from multiple agencies will be on hand to help inform victims of available services.
The event also is a rare opportunity for victims to talk directly to the five parole board members, the people who could one day decide whether an offender is released from prison early, Robertson said.
Most people think victims have an opportunity to speak at parole hearings when, in fact, board members make decisions by reading an offender’s file, she said.
Victims often bring pictures and write letters that are included in offenders’ files so parole board members can see them when an offender is being considered for release, Robertson said.
“This is an opportunity for a victim to come and face-to-face voice their point of view,” said Terry Barnard, a parole board member.
Board members stay as late as necessary for victims of crimes, ranging from burglary to murder, to tell their stories.
“If it takes until dark, we stay until dark,” he said.
When it comes time to decide if an offender is paroled, victim’s words carry weight, Barnard said.
“It does make an impact,” he said.
For Plummer, memories of her granddaughter’s death came flooding back when she received a mailed invitation to the Victims Visitors’ Day event.
She retrieved the letter from her mailbox and noticed it was mailed by the district attorney’s office.
“I was wondering what they would be writing me about,” Plummer said.
Inside, she opened the letter, read it and put it on her bed. A couple of days later, she got a call from the district attorney’s office and decided she would go to Forsyth to talk about her granddaughter.
“I don’t want another family to have to go through what we go through,” Plummer said.
Dasjwan Tranard Foster was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole following a trial in October. He proclaimed his innocence, although jurors found him guilty of firing a gun into a crowd of people outside Westminster Apartments on North Atwood Drive on Sept. 22, 2010. Williams died, but an injured teenage girl survived.
Plummer said she feels sorry that Foster, who was 17 at the time of the killing, also has lost his life to the prison system.
Knowing he won’t ever be set free gives her peace, she said.
Joelissa Mariqua Johnson, 20, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by five years on probation. She drove Foster to the apartments for a fight but contended that she didn’t know Foster had a gun or that he would shoot anyone.
Plummer said she plans to talk with parole board members Monday about Johnson.
“I want her to make the whole 15 years and five years on probation,” she said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.