Baltimore state's attorney candidate calls for 'shakeup' in leadership to better reduce crime

BALTIMORE (WMAR) -

With three weeks until elections for Baltimore State’s Attorney, candidate Thiru Vignarajah talked about crime and the murder rates in the city impacting real people.

Vignarajah wasn’t mincing his words.

Not only did he highlight the desperate need to reduce the number of murders in Baltimore, but he also called out the criminals who commit them – saying they need to stay in jail.

“When we talk about the numbers, statistics, the conviction rates – when we say the Baltimore has had record breaking homicides and record low conviction rates, it is easy to lose sight of what those numbers mean,” Vignarajah said.

Frustrated families of those impacted by murders in Baltimore in recent years stood in support of Vignarajah, claiming their loved ones’ cases should have and could have been handled better by the state’s attorney’s office.

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Current Marilyn Mosby held a simultaneous news conference, acknowledging her office’s commitment to best serving the city.

“When we talk about conviction rates, and dropped conviction rates, there’s been a lot of misinformation about what’s been happening in my office and I want to be sure that we’re accurate. I stand by my prosecutors when you consider all of the exterior challenges that we’ve been faced with in the past three years,” she said.

But there’s no excuse, says the victims’ families, for the dropped cases and the handling of other cases by her office.

“I just had listened to my husband die on the phone. My life has changed forever. I’ve lost my mate, I’ve lost my best friend – and you hand me a stack of papers and say, ‘here you go, go over these,’” Tina Forrester, whose husband Jim was killed in Fells Point, said.

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“The judge told them, there’s no way that you can plead self-defense when you shoot a man four times in the back – the autopsy papers state four times,” Velma Marshall, whose son Charles Hill was killed in the Arlington neighborhood, said about how the state’s attorney’s office handled her case.

The victims’ families had tears that have now turned to political fuel, calling for whoever wins this state’s attorney race, to be a stronger part of the process of curbing violence in the city.

“They believe that Baltimore could be the greatest city in America again, but it cannot be the city it is destined to be until and unless we solve the issues of crime,” Vignarajah said.

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