Marion County Prosecutor and Sheriff's Deputies Join Forces to Help Witnesses
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Marion County Prosecutor's Office and Marion County Sheriff's Office announced a new partnership Thursday that aims to ensure witnesses make it to the stand when it's time for a trial.
A sheriff's deputy has teamed up with two retired Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives in the prosecutor's office in the witness cooperation program. Their responsibility it to connect with and keep track of witnesses.
"A successful prosecution very often depends on cooperative witnesses. Not only at the time of an offense, but to stick with us and appear as needed throughout the progression of a case. Even those willing to give statements early may face barriers during the process, particularly in major felony cases where months may pass before trial," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.
In addition to investigators, the prosecutor's office employs victim advocates to provide service referrals and assist victims and family members throughout the criminal justice process.
The lack of help from a key witness is why the family of 16-year-old Jaylen Johnson is still reeling from his murder in 2015. The suspect was tried three times. The first was a mistrial, the second was a hung jury, and the third trial, the key witness avoided being served a subpoena, then failed to appear at trial. The defendant was found not guilty.
Rev. John Girton was one of the speakers at Jaylen's funeral and says that not guilty verdict was devastating.
"We need help to ensure that those families get some degree of closure for the tragedies and trauma they are being affected by. When a family doesn't find closure, the community doesn't find closure. We need to do whatever it takes," said Rev Girton, Christ Missionary Baptist Church.
The 3 biggest reasons witnesses don't come forward:
1. They want revenge.
2. They don't want to "snitch" or tell on someone.
3. They get scared or intimidated.