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Bobo Family Fights for Victims' Photos to be Shown in Court

By Brittany Nicholson
By bnicholson@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - This week, the family of Holly Bobo joined other families in Nashville to petition lawmakers to allow photos of their loved ones during trials.

Currently, crime scene photos of how victims die can be shown, but not pictures of how they lived.

Wednesday, Union University professor Terry Blakely testified before state leaders. As the widow of a homicide victim, she believes it is unfair that a jury does not see a picture of a victim before they were killed.

"I was gone for 20 minutes and when I got back my whole world had turned upside down," Blakely said.

Blakely lost her husband in a home invasion almost 15 years ago while living in Miami, Florida.

Had his killer gone to trial and not killed himself, jurors would have never seen what her husband, Keith, a pastor, looked like.

In Tennessee, like most other states, showing a picture of a fatal crime victim is not allowed.

"The victim can't be there to say what happened to them. To look jury members in the eyes and say this awful thing happened to me," Blakely explained.

Criminal defense attorney Daniel Taylor said the proposed Victim's Life Photo Bill violates the defendants right to an impartial jury.

"It would do things to encourage passion or prejudice," Taylor said.

He adds showing positive pictures of the defendant would be improper just like showing a victim's photo in the courtroom is improper.

"The defense lawyer can't introduce pictures of sympathy or a photo of him the year before holding a baby. It would be the same issue," Taylor said.

With the bill put off until the summer session, Blakely said she is encouraged even more to keep fighting.

"We are fighters in that we have already faced the worst nightmare anyone could possibly imagine, so we have survived that. Give us a voice and give us a choice about whether or not we want a photo of our loved one shown to a jury," she said.

Blakely is a social work professor at Union University and helps the families of homicide victims through the center for Just and Caring Communities.
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