WOODLAND — Lorena Aramburo is a survivor of domestic violence. But like many people in her situation, she found it difficult to completely sever ties with her abuser.
He was the father of her youngest child, after all. His extended family was a source of loving support.
But when Aramburo picked up her daughter from a visit with her ex’s family last July, she found she wasn’t the only target of his wrath.
As Aramburo put her 4-month-old baby in the car, “she had a gun pointed to her head, and her life was threatened,” said Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays, who would later prosecute Aramburo’s former boyfriend.
The beating continued with Aramburo being pistol-whipped, kicked and dragged by the hair. Her attacker then threatened their infant daughter and his own mother.
Less than a month later, Aramburo was on the witness stand in Yolo Superior Court, testifying at the defendant’s preliminary hearing despite family pressure to keep quiet, Hays said. She also testified at his trial, where a jury found him guilty of the brutal beating.
“I was impressed by her desire to do the right thing,” Hays said.
Because of her courage, Aramburo was one of eight people who were honored Friday at the Yolo County District Attorney’s fifth annual Crime Victims’ Tribute, held at the historic Woodland Opera House in conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The annual ceremony honors victims and survivors of crime, as well as the law-enforcement officers, advocates, prosecutors and other organizations that assist them each day.
This years theme was “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past.”
“In that regard we will never forget our victims and survivors,” District Attorney Jeff Reisig said. “All of you are truly courageous, and we’re honored to be here with you today.”
Aramburo, accompanied by her young son and daughter, said she took a stand against her abuser because “I want my children to be proud of me.”
“There’s a lot of moments when you will feel very badly,” Aramburo said in Spanish through a translator, “but you should never feel defeated or feel like you’re not worth anything, because you’re worth it for your children.”
Others honored Friday included:
* Elidia Garcia, a truck driver, who testified in court three times against a West Sacramento man who accosted and exposed himself to her at a gas station in June 2006. The defendant, already a convicted rapist, was sentenced to seven years in prison based on Garcia’s testimony.
* Vadim Sukhanov, who survived a vicious 2009 beating by another man who believed that he, not Sukhanov, should have been the person to fix a friend’s computer. Sukhanov suffered a broken leg that now requires him to walk with a cane. He and his wife, Yelena, successfully lobbied the district attorney’s office to upgrade the assault charge in the case from a misdemeanor to a felony.
* Liane Correa, Peggy Daily, Tammy Hall and Kristy Vidales, who in 2009 testified against former Woodland dentist Mark Anderson as he stood trial on 21 counts of sexual battering his female patients. A jury convicted Anderson, who is serving a six-year prison sentence.
* Former UC Davis student Brendan Goodman, who received the “Hero of the Year” award for his efforts to help police nab an assailant on Picnic Day 2009.
According to Deputy District Attorney Martha Holzapfel, Goodman witnessed the suspect “sucker-punch” another man in downtown Davis. He called 911, then followed the suspect and his friends as they fled the scene.
Even after the victim recanted his statement in the case, Goodman pressed forward and testified against the suspect, who received a 31-years-to-life prison term under California’s “three strikes” sentencing laws.
“I really just did what hopefully anyone in the same situation would do,” Goodman, 23, said after accepting his award. “So by no means do I consider myself a hero.”
Goodman’s mother Karen, watching from the audience, disagreed.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “It’s just very typical of his character. I’m not surprised.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8048.