ANCHORAGE - It’s been exactly one year since 8-year-old Am-Marie Martin was attacked and brutally beaten not far from home. At the time, Anchorage Police said it appeared her 32-year-old attacker, Byron Syvinski, wanted the girl's bike. Am-Marie and her family have been trying to move on but it's not easy. Syvinski is still going through the court system awaiting trial for assault and robbery.
June 5, 2011 is a day Am-Marie and her family would like to forget. But with Byron Syvinski's trial pushed back six times, it's still a work in progress as they try to move past the pain and memories that are still very much alive.
From first glance you probably couldn't tell Am-Marie apart from other 8 year olds. Still a growing, vibrant young girl, the soon-to-be fourth grader will tell you she's just like everyone else.
“I feel like all the other kids,” said Am-Marie. Except when you ask her about what happened one year ago when she was attacked – according to police – by Byron Syvinski. “Sort of makes me mad, just looking at him,” said Am-Marie, who said she is afraid to testify.
Her mom Andrea Dunwoody understands Am-Marie’s feelings. “I keep asking myself, why did I let her go outside? I blame myself; it’s a feeling I don't think will ever go away. Right now I’m holding all the blame and its really hard – [Syvinski] just needs to man up.”
Dunwoody says despite appearances Am-Marie is not the same. “To go through the headaches and the frustration that she goes through after the accident its nerve-wracking,” she says, and Am-Marie still won’t go outside if she sees a stranger person walking.
With the trial for Syvinski still lingering, it’s not helping the family move past the nightmare.
“The last court date that we went to, they were waiting on medical records. I understand that he wants to get fair trial, but I also think that my daughter deserves a fairness in justice for her,” said Dunwoody.
In the meantime they are focusing on letting Am-Marie be a kid, and showering her with love and hope the justice they strive for will happen soon so they can heal. “At least I still have her,” said Dunwoody. “I'm very grateful… thank god that I’m able to wake up with her every day.”
Part of that healing process for Am-Marie and her family was to move to a new neighborhood and new house, where Tuesday they held a barbecue with friends to move forward and stay strong. Syvinski's trial for multiple assaults and robbery is scheduled for July 17.