The murder of Cindy Jones, a young woman, stunned the community in Centervale. Five years ago, a young woman was found strangled to death in her car outside a grocery store in Centervale. For the past five years, the Centervale Police Department (CPD) has worked tirelessly to develop leads toward the identification of a suspect. Last year, the CPD officials got a break when the State Crime Lab notified the lead detective that the DNA sample recovered from the purse strap found around Jones’s neck indicated the involvement of Jason Rivers.
The District Attorney’s (DA’s) office has never had a case like this before. Jones came from an honorable family in the community and Rivers is a mentally challenged, middle-aged man who lives with his father far from the grocery store. Rivers had been arrested more than twenty-five times before the death of Jones. Centervale detectives have surmised that Rivers happened to be in the area of the grocery store where he supposedly encountered Jones.
Upon arrest, Rivers was found to be incompetent to proceed to trial and a judge remanded him to a state custody. Recently, doctors at the State Mental Health Hospital sent a notice that Rivers was no longer suffering from the effects of substance abuse and is competent to stand trial. A judge ruled in accordance with the doctors and the case was put on the docket for trial.
During jury selection, the voir dire consisted of questions about how potential jurors felt about law enforcement-related TV shows. During the presentation of the case, the State introduced the jury to the DNA evidence and other important physical evidence in the case. Rivers did not take the stand and the defense rested on the claim that Rivers’s DNA got on the purse strap when he accidently bumped into Jones at the checkout lane of the grocery store while she was putting groceries into her grocery cart.
The defense also attacked the CPD because a former detective who worked on the Jones crime scene was convicted of domestic violence and assault on a female since the murder.
The defense also called into question the credibility and integrity of the former detective because he was alleged to have been romantically interested in Jones before her death. In fact, Jones had spoken with a CPD official, off the record, about the harassing phone calls she received from the former detective, although nothing was done by the department to stop the calls.
Here Is What You Need to Do . . .
You are an intern working in the DA’s office. The DA has asked you to help him assemble information about current trends in criminal justice that relate to the Jones murder case.
Using in-text citations to cite all sources that are linked to a corresponding reference on a separate page of the report, compose a 5- to 6-page report using APA format, addressing the following:
- Compare and contrast the current trends surrounding the murder of Jones and violent crimes against individuals in the U.S. In addition, identify and discuss issues surrounding the mentally challenged and crime, specifically violent crimes against individuals. Support your position with empirical research from academic sources.
- Define and discuss the CSI effect. What challenges might the court face as a result of the CSI effect? Identify and analyze two challenges that the prosecution might face and two challenges that the defense might experience due to the influence of the CSI effect in the courtroom.
- Evaluate the importance of credibility and integrity of law enforcement professionals. Analyze and discuss the role a law enforcement officer’s off-duty behavior plays in the establishment of his or her credibility and integrity in the courtroom. Compare and contrast the issues in the Jones murder case with a similar case you find online.
- Based on what you know about the criminal justice system’s current trends in the courts and corrections, predict the outcome of the trial of Rivers. If Rivers is convicted of first-degree murder, then mention the type of sentence he might face.
- Use your state’s statute as a guideline for sentencing structure in this type of case.
- Compare your state’s general sentencing guideline with another state’s sentence for first-degree murder.