Wicomico County States Attorney, Sen. Carozza working to end juvenile protections from violent crime investigations
SALISBURY, Md – Wicomico County State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes is working with Maryland State Senator Mary Beth Carozza to draft a bill that they say would lift restrictions on police looking to solve homicide investigations with juvenile victims and suspects.
“Wicomico has suffered in the last three or four months some incredible tragedy as it relates to juveniles,” Dykes said adding “Wicomico is feeling the weight of recently enacted juvenile statutes that affect law enforcement’s ability to identify and prosecute offenders, juvenile offenders.”
Dykes tells 47ABC that recent restrictions passed by the General Assembly render law enforcement unable to interview, detain or otherwise question persons under 18.
She says the restrictions leave law enforcement unable to ask questions she says are key when building cases and identifying possible shooters in the April Pizza City and July 5th Mass shootings that left a 16-year-old and 14-year-old dead respectively.
“Where were you on the date and time of the offense? Take me through your day. Tell me what you did that day. Any and all inconsistencies of suspects. Get us closer to who did it, why they did it, and help us get closer to justice,” she said.
Sen. Carozza tells 47ABC she got the chance to speak with Maryland Governor Wes Moore this week to help convince him to support what she says is a bi-partisan crime bill that would include an exception for juveniles accused of violent crimes from protections passed in previous years by the General Assembly.
“These are the type of changes, common sense changes that Governor Moore indicated he was open to, and indicates that he would work with us on bipartisan public safety legislation,” Senator Carozza said.
Dykes says though no one has been charged with a homicide in the July 5th mass shooting law enforcement has been able to build a strong case based on evidence they do have available, but she says that can create delay and an environment of fear in a community.
“We have been hampered in these cases because a number of these suspects are juveniles, a number of those involved are juveniles, we are, therefore, in the position of having to wait for forensic evidence in a way that we wouldn’t usually,” she said.
She tells us in both cases, the victims were also juveniles something she hopes the General Assembly keeps in mind when the prospective bill is introduced next legislative session.
“When you have juveniles committing crimes of this nature, it’s also juveniles who are the victims, and I want less victims,” Dykes said.