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Murder, Capital Murder Trials Move to Front of the Line
Harris County District Attorney
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Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg joined with law-enforcement officials and families of murder victims Wednesday to acknowledge a new state law taking effect Friday prioritizing murder trials in Texas.


Ogg said she hoped the law, sponsored by state Sen. John Whitmire, would help reduce the backlog of murder cases that has climbed to more than 1,800 in recent years. But she warned that continued delays in testing evidence at area crime labs – specifically at the Houston Forensic Science Center – may counter that progress.


“We at the District Attorney’s Office are ready. Our friends in law enforcement are ready,” Ogg said. “Now we need the City of Houston to ensure that our evidence is ready.”


Ogg was joined by Doug Griffith, the president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, and by Leticia Ybarra and Alison Steele, whose young daughters were murdered in 2020 and 2017, respectively. Families of murder victims now must wait an average of 3.5 years for their cases to reach trial.


More than 1,800 murder cases were pending in Harris County as of Aug. 22, 2023, with nearly half of those suspects remaining at large, either as fugitives or on bond.


“Murder trials are a public safety necessity,” Ogg said. “Without significant progress on these trials, we and our neighbors are at risk from extremely dangerous suspects and our jail remains overcrowded with those in custody awaiting trial.”
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