Baltimore Officials Battle Witness Intimidation

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Rev. Iris Tucker

Rev. Iris Tucker of Baltimore is glad that lawmakers are thinking more about the problem of witness intimidation, but skeptical that any legislation can make her neighborhood feel safe. Tracy Wahl, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Tracy Wahl, NPR

A fire set at this house in Baltimore killed a family of seven in 2002, drawing national attention to the problem of witness intimidation. The city is now considering new steps to bolster the protection of witnesses. Tracy Wahl, NPR hide caption

Baltimore Fire
toggle caption Tracy Wahl, NPR

Over the past decade, homicide rates have largely declined. But prosecutors say it's still hard to get convictions in murder cases, especially in urban areas. One part of the problem is getting reluctant witnesses to come forward. Their disappearance leaves criminal proceedings in limbo, and while some murder witnesses simply ignore court subpoenas, others are intimidated into skipping town, or worse — are killed.

NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports on the efforts of an unusual homicide detective force in Baltimore, Maryland, to seek out no-show witnesses and combat intimidation.



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