, "Court limits videos of victims"

The New Jersey Supreme Court has limited the use of videos in a victim impact statement during sentencing if the video is determined to have “little or no probative value” and could unfairly “arouse or inflame emotions.” Without clear guidelines, victims’ rights advocates say, the decision could lead judges to disallow victim impact videos in some courtrooms out of fear of seeing their rulings overturned. - HTN Foundation

(Staff photo/DAVID GARRETT) Steven and Beth Cantwell, Melaine's parents speak at sentencing hearing. James Mecchella was sentenced for vehicular homicide in the drunk driving death of Melaine Cantwell Thursday at County Courthouse in Mount Holly. 8-20-09.By Danielle Camilli, Staff writer

Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2011 6:00 am

Updated: 7:00 am, Sun Jul 31, 2011.

MOUNT HOLLY — The video in the courtroom showed happier times.

Proud parents holding their newborn daughter. A little girl in hair curlers. A teenager blowing out her birthday candles. A young woman laughing with friends and family.

The images, set to music, depicted a life taken too soon, said Beth Cantwell of the victim-impact video that was played when the man responsible for the death of her daughter, Melanie, was sentenced in 2009 for the drunken-driving crash that claimed the 24-year-old woman’s life.

The Shamong mother learned last week that when the defendant is re-sentenced in October, the video — the one that was too painful to put together herself but means so much to her — will have to be changed.