MERCER COUNTYParents of local murder victim participate in state program
By Larissa Theodore
Herald Staff Writer
Five years ago, Darryl Cozart of Sharpsville was missing for 10 days before his body was eventually found -- in Ohio.
Genell Cozart of Farrell said her son Darryl was shot six times from behind on March 1, 1997, after he returned home from work late at night. He was taken across the state line to Ohio. Darryl Cozart was 33-years-old and married with two children, a daughter, who was 9, and a son, who was 11. His killer is serving a life sentence in prison without parole.
"We don't want anymore people to be hurt," Mrs. Cozart said. "After our son's murder, we don't want to see any more violence if we can help it. We're willing to do anything if we can deter crime."
After their son's murder, Mrs. Cozart and her husband Purcell Cozart joined the Mercer County Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc., for which Mrs. Cozart is a chapter leader. Parents of Murdered Children recently organized a candlelight vigil in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
"The same problem we've gone through and are going through, others are going through too," Mrs. Cozart said. "We're praying and hoping things will get better."
The Cozarts took a special trip on April 15 and 16 to Harrisburg to participate in a press conference for "Fight Crime: Invest In Kids Pennsylvania," which they joined last year. Fight Crime is a not-for-profit organization made up of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime solvers fighting to prevent crime by investing in children.
The Cozarts visited the offices of Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Gruitza and had a chance to speak with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Robbins at his office. They also attended a luncheon held in honor of crime victims.
"(Fight Crime) is an anti-crime organization working to get after-school programs for children in order to prevent some of the crimes being committed out there," Mrs. Cozart said. "It's a national organization for police forces around the world and victims like us."
Fight Crime organizers discussed their new "School and Youth Violence Prevention Plan" at the press conference. The plan calls on policymakers to help kids get the right start in life so they don't become criminals, steps that include access to afterschool, and weekend and summer youth development programs. According to Fight Crime, Pennsylvania is one of nine states that doesn't invest any of its own money in preschool programs or supplement the federal Headstart program.
"We just hope that something will be done," Mrs. Cozart said.
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