Violent crime victim families speak out after AG Sessions visit

Violent crime victim families speak out after AG Sessions visit
(De'Asia Wallace)
(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Attorney General Jeff Sessions's speech Monday in Toledo hit home for anyone who lost a loved one crime. But the speech brought up hard memories for three specific Toledo families.

"It's a wonderment and at the same time it's kind of like, the attorney general knows my nephew's name because he died, because he was killed," said Cheryl Nissen, who lost her nephew Thomas Lehman to violence.

Lehman, 23, was beaten to death in August in front of his four-year-old daughter.

De'Asia Wallace was just 20-years-old when she was shot after a large brawl in central Toledo. Her death captured on video and posted online.

Sessions also mentioned teenager Shelton Hicks, who was gunned down in north Toledo in June.

"I'm not really looking forward to this Christmas," explained Nissen. "It's going to be a tough one."

"I hurt every day," said Demetrius Wallace, De'Asia's father. "I mean there is not a day that I don't wake up that I don't hurt thinking about her."

The reality this Christmas for these two families is that De'Asia and Thomas won't be there. Their chairs will sit empty.

With Attorney General Jeff Sessions visit to Toledo Monday, he brought up their murders to shed light on the violence in hopes of change for the future. Something both families hope for.

"I mean that's a beautiful thing because we are getting the attention of high profile people and maybe we can get something done about the gun violence," Wallace explained.

Demetrius had to watch the video showing the moments just before his daughter was shot dead. He wants the Attorney General to set stricter gun laws.

However, in Thomas's murder, no weapons were used. Instead, two 16-year-old juveniles beat Lehman to death with their hands and feet. Still, those juveniles were sentenced to a youth treatment facility that could release them in just months.

A penalty all too small for Cheryl, who wants harsher punishment for violent crimes.

"I could see one of those boys in six months while I'm standing there pumping gas," stated Cheryl Nissen, Thomas's aunt. "It's just not fair. I think we really need to be tougher. There shouldn't be just one set of rules."

During Session's speech, he said he chose Toledo for the National Public Safety Partnership, the Project Safe Neighborhoods and will add an Assistant United States Attorney.

The families of both Wallace and Lehman want their loved one's legacy to continue living on and hope to help fight against the violence in our city however they can.

"I hope I can be called to meet with him too and just give my point of view about what I think about what should be done in hopes that that could change someone's life," said Wallace.

"They're going to use my nephew as a poster boy then let's make some changes happen," said Cheryl Nissen.

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