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Man charged with felonies will have right to confront witness

Ordinarily, contacting tip lines such as Crimestoppers allows callers to remain anonymous under Louisiana law despite the fact that it does not provide the accused with the right to confront all witnesses against him or her in court. A tipster in a case involving felonies connected to the death of a woman in June 2015 had this protection at one time. However, the judge presiding over the criminal case recently ruled that the tipster's subsequent actions nullified that protection.

The shooting death and subsequent burning of the victim and her car was the subject of an episode of the television show "The First 48." After the show aired, the tipster came forward and provided a recorded interview to police. The witness then identified the man accused of the crimes in a lineup. By taking these actions, the witness is no longer protected by Louisiana law and can be called as a witness in the case.

Crimstoppers attempted to protect the witness, but to no avail. The witness does retain the right to appeal the ruling, but that action may be in vain since the witnesses's identity is already public. The rights of the accused in this case supersede Crimestoppers' argument that the right to anonymity must be preserved. However, the non-profit organization failed to take into consideration the events that led to the judge's decision. 

Every individual accused of misdemeanors or felonies retains the right to confront witnesses against him or her in court. Calling in an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers is one thing, but taking the extra steps this particular caller took should allow the accused to confront the witness in court. Considering the gravity of the crimes alleged against the man in this case, and the potentially severe penalties he faces, a crucial part of his, or anyone's, defense, would be to question anyone providing statements to police that could lead to a guilty verdict.

Source: nola.com, "Crimestoppers tipster must testify if called in murder case, New Orleans judge rules", Ken Daley, May 2, 2017

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