Bill protecting names of murder witnesses gets strong local support

Proposed bill to protect murder witnesses' identities

TAMPA, FL -- Tampa police never forget a murder unsolved. In some cases, they believe someone saw it happen, but never came forward.

“It can be very frustrating when you know that there's a bunch of people that were right there when the crime occurred,” said Steve Hegarty, public information officer for the Tampa Police Department.

It was at a park where E.J. Harris, just 14 years old, was gunned down.

E.J. was murdered outside of Faye Mosley's home. She didn't hesitate to call 911.

“I have not recovered from it. It's very painful to see a child laying down, had an opportunity of becoming someone,” Mosley said.

And now, looking at the future, state legislators in Florida hope a proposed law encourages witnesses of murder to speak up.

“It’s worth it, I really think that it's worth it,” she said.

The bill, addressing the no snitching culture, keeps witnesses' names private from public records for two years after the crime. Police think it'll work.

“Don't like to create any more exemptions for public records, but if this is something that would help people to come forward than we are certainly interested in seeing it,” Hegarty said.

There are several exceptions. One would allow a defendant and their attorney to have the information during a criminal case. That would not change from current state law.

While a similar measure failed last year, this bill is showing strong signs of support having passed the Florida House. Now, it just needs to make it through the Senate.  

“Something needs to happen,” Mosley added. 

The First Amendment Foundation opposes it saying they don't believe it will solve the problem. But, many believe it will provide hope for justice in some unsolved cases. 

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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