Baltimore prosecutors say felony domestic violence cases are among the most difficult to prosecute – in part because scant, if any, forensic evidence is collected and they rely on vulnerable victims who are likely to change their stories, reports the Baltimore Sun. That could begin to change next month with the launch of a pilot project. Starting in one of the busiest areas for such cases, domestic violence detectives will handle the investigations. Now, most are investigated by patrol officers.
Nine detectives and a lieutenant will be in a courthouse office with crisis counselors who can offer immediate assistance to victims. Video equipment will preserve a victim’s statement, conveying to a jury not only an account of what happened, but also the person’s state of mind. The goal is to develop solid cases that can proceed even if the victim does not want to cooperate. There were at least 12 domestic killings among the city’s 282 homicides last year. Many times the killings followed an escalating pattern of abuse that went unprosecuted.