New Commonwealth's Attorney has tough task to ease violent crime

James Mallory
James Mallory

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Putting criminals behind bars who are responsible for the kind of violence we've seen in Louisville lately is a big theme in Tuesday's race for Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney.

Two prosecutors and two judges are in the running for the job. We wanted to know, how much power does the Commonwealth's Attorney really have in stopping the violence?

Tom Van De Rostyne, Steve Ryan, Tom Wine and Carol Cobb:  Four qualified candidates with a tough on crime campaign promise.

While the race for Commonwealth's Attorney usually doesn't draw much attention, this time it comes at one of the most turbulent times in recent memory. Thursday, three people were killed and three others injured when gunfire broke out in one West Louisville neighborhood.

"People talk about the economy and they talk about all this other stuff but, people living and dying is really where the political rubber hits the road," said Marc Murphy a former Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney who served in 1995 and 1996.

Murphy believes it's crucial that Tuesday's winner develops a good working relationship with police and teachers.

"These things just don't start when a man reaches the age of 23," he told WAVE 3 News. "Most of these people that are in trouble and most of the people that are involved in this current west end violence got into trouble when they were 8," he said, "it started in their neighborhoods and it started in their homes."

Beyond that, Murphy says it's about putting the right people in prison.

Recent gun violence brings criticism that prosecutors make too many deals with people like James Mallory, a key figure in several violent crimes.

Murphy says the public has to understand, it's a complicated web forcing prosecutors to make deals with the Devil in order to get someone to testify.

"In any one of these cases," Murphy explained, "you could have a wire diagram on your wall showing a chart with 30 different relationships," he continued, "person A dealt with person B and person C has already been killed by person D's brother-in-law and so he's got a vendetta here but, you can't convict any of them unless some of them testify."

Murphy says it is always going to depend on witness testimony and with their life on the line, witnesses aren't going to testify for free."

Murphy says if you don't have deals, you get nothing done.

He says the person who wins Tuesday also needs to be open to look to other cities that have recently managed big crime problems. Some cities he says even put prosecutors out working with police in high crime areas.

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