Mid-South crime victim now facing her fears

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Four years ago, Carrie Sanders found herself in the cross hairs of two violent criminals accused of rape, robbery and carjacking on a three-day crime spree across Memphis.

"I've never seen pure evil in someone's eyes like I saw that night," Sanders said.

Sanders was a newlywed when she and her husband walked into an East Memphis Exxon in August of 2006.  When they walked out, a man was on the floorboard of her car.

When her husband confronted the man, another armed suspect appeared and began beating his face with the back end of a gun.

"I had been married three weeks at that point and watched my new husband almost beaten to death in front of me," Sanders said.

When the beating stopped, suspects Marcus Smith and Joe Lloyd took off.

"All I could do was scream," Sanders said.

Police caught Smith and Lloyd two days later.  Sanders and her husband survived the violent attack, but what happened after almost killed her.

"It was just the beginning of the end," Sanders said.

Sanders suffered from acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"It was like being trapped inside your own body by your own fear," Sanders said.

That fear cost Sanders her marriage and her job, which led to an attempted suicide.

"By the time they got to the hospital, my stomach was full of blood and I was almost dead," she said.

Sanders believes she is alive today because of the help she received from the Shelby County Crime Victim's Assistance Center.

"It's like they're angels," Sanders said.  "They take over and they really help you decide what you need to do next."

Counselors recommended Sanders undergo a form of psychotherapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR.

"It basically takes your traumatic memories from your frontal lobe and puts it in a filing cabinet in the back of your head," Sanders explained.

Four years later, Sanders is facing her fears by volunteering to counsel criminals who are about to be released from jail.

"Talking to them about the impact that their crime has on their victims," Sanders described.  "Telling those people, those perpetrators, hey ... 90 seconds of your actions did this to my life."

Sanders hopes her story will make parolees think twice about committing crimes.  It is her final chapter in what has been a long healing process.

"It took approximately two and a half years to get back on track," Sanders said, "but it's getting better."

Sanders applauded the Tennessee legislature for approving a bill that raises the minimum sentence for a convicted armed robber.  Effective this month, offenders will have to serve a minimum of six years behind bars, up from the previous minimum of about two and a half years.

If you are a victim of crime in Shelby County and need assistance, click here for more information.

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