New bill will allow victim photos in homicide trials

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JACKSON, Tenn. — State lawmakers approve a bill allowing prosecutors to use pre-crime photos of homicide victims. The Victim Life Photo Bill will go into effect July 1. The photos of victims have generally not been allowed. Some defense attorneys have previously argued the pictures would automatically make a jury sympathetic to the victim. Jackson attorney Mark Donahoe said he’s OK with the change. “Some judges allow this type of thing anyway,” he said. “They would allow a photograph to be introduced since they can’t come and testify themselves in a case where they are deceased.” Donahoe said he isn’t concerned the photo could enhance jury sympathy. “In any death case there is some sympathy within the jury, and I think that’s just something you have to be prepared to deal with if you’re defending a case,” he said. Other West Tennesseans said victims deserve this right. “Anything that can display the fact that they were a human being and someone’s loved one, they should absolutely be able to use whatever they can to convince a jury,” Glen Wheeler said. Those who question the law say the photos at trial could upset victims’ families even more. “As far as a minor goes, watching that could be a little harsh for them,” Randy Grasher said. Jackson lawmakers Senator Ed Jackson and representatives Jimmy Eldridge and Johnny Shaw all voted in favor of the bill.

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