Felony mediation being used to move homicide cases along in Fayette Co.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – While many homicide cases go to trial, some get resolved behind closed doors.
Fayette County Commonwealth Attorney Kimberly Baird says only recently is that happening more in Fayette County, because of felony mediation.
“Nobodys been resistant because, at the end of the day, we’re not obligated to anything. We may not resolve things and sometimes we don’t. There’s just not a meeting of the minds so when they recognize that it’s not obligating them to anything and recognize they get to participate and express their feelings, everyone’s been okay with that” said Baird.
Baird says not all cases go through it, she says right now there’s a focus on homicide cases, that have been backlogged
or where the strength of the case may not be that great.
Baird says that could be because witnesses in the case have passed away or backed out, which she says is happening more.
“We used to have a village in this community if you saw something you said something and we just do not have that and I recognize it is because we have an increase in murders and shootings and people are scared and afraid of retaliation which used to not be a thing but it is more so now so people are scared” added Baird.
She says going through this mediation allows the victim or their family to speak with the judge directly and fully understand how the case could pan out if it went to trial.
“In a trial, they are just sitting there listening to what’s being said about whatever, but at least in mediation they get to participate they get to talk to the judge they get to ask questions they get to hear a little more about the information on how it will come out in trial so it kind of helps them process a little better” added Baird.
And although some victims or their families may not want to go to mediation…
“Even though it’s a no harm no foul technically for them, they want their day in court and so having a prosecutor say well this may be better is a little devastating on them,” said Baird.
But Baird says when it comes to felony cases, many victims or victims’ families wait years for justice to be served.
She says felony mediation helps move things along.
“I, unfortunately, have one that will be almost 8 years by the time we get it because it got continued for a variety of reasons, and that family is still going through it. so a lot of times they just want it to be resolved and they want the person who did it to be held accountable” said, Baird.
There are currently 5 retired judges that facilitate the mediation.