Dozens of Murder Cases May Be Reopened

A cold case detective notified district attorney Neal Pinkston that he stumbled upon hundreds of folders containing evidence from murders between 1986 and 2002.

Inside these bags were untouched shell casings, teeth, blood samples…evidence that might have changed murder rulings.

Now, every murder ruling in that time period is under scrutiny.

The D.A. and Chattanooga police were both quick to distance themselves.

"I wasn’t here in 1986," said Pinkston.

And a press release from the police department says the mishandling took place before Chief Fletcher and his staff took office.

Still, Pinkston says it will require many hands and multiple departments to get this straightened out.

"I made the chief and the sheriff aware last week and then contacted the other local municipals because there might be stuff from an East Ridge case or Soddy Daisy case," Pinkston said. "I made them aware of it. And I also made the three criminal court judges aware of it because that is who I’d have to report to if it looks like there’s someone who has been convicted that shouldn’t have been."

The undertaking will be tedious so Pinkston is creating a committee to oversee the process made up of a lawyer, a judge, a law professor and a civil rights advocate.

Pinkston was ethically bound to report his knowledge of this unused evidence.

"Poor people especially can’t afford the best attorneys," said former Chattanooga NAACP president Eddie Holmes. "They don’t have the resources to really dig through and find out so we’re a lot of times in the hand of the public defenders office and we just don’t have the resources so it’s not surprising. It’s not alarming. I think it’s called criminal justice system for a reason. You’re dealing with people perceived to be criminal and sometimes you think those people don’t deserve justice."

Pinkston will have his oversight committee appointed by January 15, 2016.

Categories: Local News

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