Meck Co. DA announces plan to focus on murder trial backlog

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - More than 50 times last year, police and prosecutors investigated murder scenes in Mecklenburg County.

They added to an ongoing backlog of homicide cases that is taking years to get to trial.

District Attorney Andrew Murray announced new plans Monday to aggressively whittle that backlog down.

"We anticipate that we are going to try a lot more cases this year," he said.

Murray said the state approved his request for more judges and trial dates to take more murder cases to court.

In 2013, there were 14 murder trials in Mecklenburg County. This year, Murray is hoping for as many as 26.

"Every non-capital case that has pleaded not guilty, as of this date, is being scheduled in 2014," Murray said.

"I think it's overdue," said Judy Williams with Mothers of Murdered Offspring.

Williams, a victims' advocate, said too many families are waiting too long for justice in homicide cases.

"You've got families who can't move on," she said. "They're, like, stuck right there, waiting on this trial to start and be over."

To try extra cases, Murray is pairing prosecutors with trial experience in other crimes with veteran homicide DAs.

Murray said he hopes the extra manpower will keep cutting into the homicide case backlog and he said it will eventually pay other dividends to the community.

"Once I get that to a manageable level, I can start reallocating resources and start putting resources into other violent crimes, things like sex crimes," Murray said.

The focus for now will remain on putting murder suspects in Charlotte on trial.