NORWAY – It took four years to identify his daughter’s murderer, and another two to get the case heard in court.

But Bob LaVine considers himself “one of the lucky ones.”

That’s because he has the satisfaction of knowing his daughter’s killer is serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole.

Other parents of murdered children must face the prospect of not knowing if, or when their child’s murderer will be back on the streets.

“It’s a kind of revictimization” of the victims’ families by an unfair justice system, said LaVine, who is working for passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the rights of crime victims.

Kimberly Dianne LaVine was a 27-year-old accountant working for the government in Seattle, Wash., 18 years ago when she and her fiance, Edward Smith Jr., 27, decided to take a day trip to a scenic overlook on the Columbia River.

They never returned.

His body was found a few days later, his throat cut. Hers was found five and a half months later among the sagebrush a mile and a half away.

It took four years for one fingerprint, found on the hood of the couple’s car, to tie the murders to Billy Ray Ballard, who was then serving time in a Wyoming prison for another violent crime.

LaVine said he had to fight to get Washington State prosecutors to extradite Ballard to stand trial for the murders. “They said they didn’t want to spend the money.”

LaVine said “We were as persistent as hell. We wouldn’t have gotten any information if we hadn’t been constantly on the phone. We even flew over there, 3,000 miles.”

LaVine was in the courtroom when Ballard pleaded guilty to both murders, and was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without possibility of parole.

“Now, when Wyoming is done with him, he goes to Washington state to stay,” LaVine said.

LaVine finds it strange when prosecutors put off victims’ families by saying murder is a crime against the state.

“They say it’s a crime against the state but it’s devastating to the family,” LaVine said.


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