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Bill Aimed At Protecting Murder Witnesses From Retaliation Clears First House Committee

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Murder witnesses’ personal information would be exempt from Florida’s public records laws under a bill that passed its first House committee Wednesday.

Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Miami) is the bill’s House sponsor.

“House Bill 111 creates a public records exemption for the criminal intelligence or criminal investigative information that reveals the personal identifying information of a witness to a murder for two years after the date on which the murder is observed by the witness,” said Stafford.

Tangela Sears—founder of Parents of Murdered Kids—supports the measure. Her son was killed in Tallahassee in 2015. She says witnesses who feared retaliation would be more inclined to come forward.

“So, if we protect this information from the killers because we know they’re smart, I believe we can get a lot of killers off the streets, but we’ll also protect the witnesses,” said Sears.

Meanwhile, some have raised constitutional concerns about the rights of the accused to confront their accuser. But, Stafford likens her bill to Florida’s current public records exemption laws for confidential informants and sex abuse victims.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.