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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

Senate advances legislation seeking to reduce U.S. homicide cold cases

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The U.S. Senate recently advanced the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act, which will now move to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), seeks to help address the nation’s growing number of homicide cold cases.

“After thirty years, we still do not know who is responsible for murdering four teenage girls at a yogurt shop in Austin, Texas,” McCaul said. “By passing this legislation, we are providing not only hope but resources to those who lost family members to federal murder cases in order to ensure cold cases do not stay that way. I remain optimistic states will follow Congress’ lead and enact similar legislation on the state level. Hopefully, this will give families the answers, justice, and closure they need. I urge President Biden to sign this into law as soon as possible.”

The measure provides relatives of homicide victims the right to have their loved one’s federal case file reviewed after the case has gone cold for three years, adding a full reinvestigation would occur as a means of ensuring the case file is updated with the latest technologies if helpful to obtaining new evidence or probative leads.

“Far too many homicides in our country are going unsolved, leaving families and communities devastated,” Swalwell said. “As a former prosecutor, I am hopeful that my bill will help give grieving families some closure and allow them to move one step closer toward the healing and justice they deserve.”

The legislation would bolster lines of communication between law enforcement and families, providing updates on their loved one’s case file while also collecting data on common homicide case issues.