WICHITA – A motions hearing tomorrow will determine whether or not the identity of a Crime Stoppers tipster can be revealed for the trial of an accused murderer.
The ruling could have a big impact on a successful crime fighting program in Wichita.
This past April, the body of 19 year-old Jordan Turner was found in a field in southeast Wichita.
Three people are charged with his murder: Ebony Nguyen, Erick Jackson and Kristoffer Wright.
A motion filed by the attorney representing Nguyen asks the state to disclose the name and contact information for their confidential Crime Stoppers informant.
“The problem with every informant is what is their motivation? Is it to work off their own case? Their own crime?” asks criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat.
He says if the anonymous information is in the possession of the prosecutor, the prosecutor may have a duty to make the identity of the tipster known.
The catch here is that no one has that information.
“If we are subpoenaed for information and the judge allows it through the only thing they’re gonna get is gonna be info about the informant,” explains head of the Wichita Crime Commission Gordon Bassham.
Bassham says not even Crime Stoppers knows who that caller was.
And he says regardless – he’s not giving out the information.
“There’s a lot of case law not only from Kansas but around the country that will not allow that to happen,” assures Bassham. “It’s just a way to get information from Crime Stoppers and as I said we’re not going to let that happen.”
Monnat adds, as history dating back to World War II shows, a successful defense doesn’t have to rely on anonymous tipsters or informants.
“Their testimony or evidence was deemed inadmissible in court it’s really only since then that the use of informants has crescendoed to the level that it now exists,” explains Monnat.
KSN will be at that hearing Friday morning.