Proposed bill would publicize crime hearings

RALEIGH -- Six months ago a New Hanover County grand jury accidentally indicted a former deputy on murder charges. Now a bill is making its way through State legislature that could have cleared up a lot of confusion in that case. If this bill is passed it would mean that what goes on in the grand jury room would no longer be kept secret. District Attorney Ben David said, "The thing with the grand jury now is they are not recorded and they are in secret proceedings." If House Bill 852 is passed grand jury hearings for crimes like murder, bribery and embezzlement could become more public. The bill would allow a court reporter to record the deliberations. It would also allow a prosecutor to subpoena witnesses to testify before the grand jury to aid in the jurors decision on whether to indict. DA David said, "There are cases where it's important to be able to vet what the case is about before it gets into a court room." Case in point: the investigation into the death of Peyton Strickland. The teen was killed in December when a sheriff's deputy fired through his front door. Less than a month later former New Hanover County Deputy Chris Long was accidentally indicted on murder charges. The mistake led to a lot of confusion and conspiracy theories. Blue Line Radio co-host Marc Benson has followed the case closely. While he is for this bill he points out there is a grey area for how much information is too much. A Strickland family spokesperson told said the family doesn't want to comment on the bill. Right now the attorney general's special prosecution is reviewing the case against Chris Long. We'll bring you any updates as soon as they come available.

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