Anyone in Maryland and across the country that is tried for a crime is presumed to be innocent and this requires that the jury hearing the case must be impartial and free of bias. With the Internet and social media, it can be difficult to find jurors who are completely unfamiliar with a crime, but certain actions draw considerable attention to a crime, making it difficult for a suspect to receive a fair trial. When a police officer recently posted a picture of a murder scene along with the dead body, it raised questions about whether the officer’s actions were appropriate.
It can be extremely difficult for a juror to be impartial in a murder trial. Because someone has died, the assumption is that there is some kind of “bad guy” out there. With more gruesome murders, such as a shooting, pictures of the murder scene are sure to trigger some emotions in potential jurors.
In this case, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is looking into the activities of one of its homicide detectives. The detective has worked with the LAPD for more than 25 years and has considerable experience with gang violence and homicide. With all that experience, it would have been reasonable to assume that the officer would not risk a homicide investigation by sharing a picture of the murder scene on Twitter.
If police ever bring formal charges against someone for this shooting, it is possible that the suspect may not be able to overcome the considerable publicity or strong opinions surrounding the case.
Source: New York Daily News, “Los Angeles homicide detective under fire for posting murder crime scene photo on Twitter,” Phillip Caulfield, Oct. 17, 2011