Tenn. House subcommittee sends victim photo bill to summer study

Tenn. House subcommittee sends victim photo bill to summer study

Posted:
A Tennessee House of Representatives subcommittee has pushed back a vote on a bill that would allow murder victims' photos to be entered as evidence in trial. A Tennessee House of Representatives subcommittee has pushed back a vote on a bill that would allow murder victims' photos to be entered as evidence in trial.
Loved ones of a number of Tennessee murder victims were in attendance. Loved ones of a number of Tennessee murder victims were in attendance.
The vote visibly upset many of the families. The vote visibly upset many of the families.
Joan Berry questioned if anything's more important than seeing the face of a victim like her daughter Johnia. Joan Berry questioned if anything's more important than seeing the face of a victim like her daughter Johnia.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - A Tennessee House of Representatives subcommittee has pushed back a vote on a bill that would allow murder victims' photos to be entered as evidence in trial.

After some discussion, the House Civil Justice committee made a motion Wednesday afternoon to move discussion of the bill to a summer study session. No other action will be taken this session.

Loved ones of a number of Tennessee murder victims were in attendance, including Joan Berry, mother of Johnia Berry who was killed in 2004.

The vote visibly upset many of the families.

"I think they deserve more than this, a summer study," said Berry.

According to sponsor Rep. Ryan Haynes, House Bill 1524 would allow prosecutors to show a photo of the victim before the crime occurred. The photo would then be entered in as evidence for the jurors to view during deliberations.

Before the vote, several members of the subcommittee expressed concern over the bill, saying it may be unconstitutional and could cause a conviction to be appealed to the Supreme Court and cases to be retried.

Several members said evidence must only be admitted as evidence if it's relevant to proving elements in a case.

Berry questioned if anything's more important than seeing the face of a victim.

"I think it's relevant for them to see this person. They were alive. They had a life. They had a voice. Now, the only pictures they get to see are the crime pictures," she said.

Kevin Funk, father of Derek Funk, who's been missing since 2010, says jurors get to see the defendants cleaned up. He says it's only fair to show a photo of the homicide victims before the crime occurred.

"If you have a victim that has not been murdered, they are still alive. They get to go to court," said Funk.

After the vote was taken, many of the victims' families gathered together for a photo, yelled, "Keep fighting," and promised to keep supporting their cause.

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