Baton Rouge DA's office receives grant to fight witness intimidation
BATON ROUGE- The City of Baton Rouge was among three cities including Baltimore and Boston to receive a federal grant to help cities target witness intimidation.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said the grant will not provide any extra money for the cause, but will provide expert guidance and advice that is estimated between $100,000 to $200,000 over the next two years.
"It gives us technical assistance, experts from around the country that are going to come take a look at what we do here," Moore said. "With how Baton Rouge is set up and how can we do a better job at educating our people to avoid witness intimidation, how can we stop it and enforce it."
Many recent cases catapulted Baton Rouge into the spotlight to get the grant. Take for example a number of witnesses who turned up dead when Jason Fourmy was killed in 2007. Charges against his accused killers were dropped.
A recent case this month involved the father of the man accused of killing a Tennessee truck driver. Landry Carter is implicated in the truck driver's death and multiple armed robberies. Carter's dad was arrested this month for threatening to shoot a witness in that case. That witness' name appeared in Landry Carter's arrest paperwork.
"We have many cases where witnesses do not want to come to court," Moore said. "They are still alive but refuse to come to court. Witnesses houses are shot up, witnesses die or are killed."
Ultimately it's up to the witnesses to be able to help themselves when situations develop.
"When you use the term protection, we have more assistance than protection," Moore said. "I think we have to work with the witness. The witness and the victim have to work with us. Can you imagine being told that your life is at risk you have to leave where you live, your child has to go to another school... and you have to go to another city? How would you survive that?"
Part of the grant will track the progress of the efforts that are ultimately implemented. The group leading the grant is scheduled to meet the first part of next year.