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Criminal defense news: Kansas City murders unsolved, rates stable

With approximately half of the homicides in 2013 remaining unsolved, Kansas City's crime rate appears to be taking a disturbing trend. Fewer local residents are mounting criminal defense cases against homicide charges, for example, largely because such defendants are rarely identified. Even law enforcement officers are baffled at the lack of awareness - and low witness compliance - that prevented sharp declines in violent crimes in the city this year. Even though the city experienced a slight decrease in 2013 - 106 murders versus 108 in 2012 - the gains in safety were paltry when compared to improvements in other major metros.

Official reports show that eight of the nation's 10 most violent cities showed significant drops in the number of murders in 2013 when compared to 2012 statistics. In fact, larger cities such as New York City, Chicago and even Philadelphia experienced an average drop of nearly 16 percent in homicide rates. Sadly, Kansas City was not among those fortunate cities, as murder numbers have remained relatively constant in recent years. Further, the nature of those homicides remains the same; most victims are African Americans who are shot during arguments. One woman, for instance, was shot by another driver because she cut him off in traffic. Another individual is accused of killing his roommate because he was called lazy for failing to do his chores.

A growing number of Kansas City homicides are also associated with drug conspiracy crimes, including an unexpected rise in the visibility of PCP as a contributing factor. One man killed his friend in January 2013 after that person refused to share marijuana with him, for example. Homicides are also occurring when residents attempt to steal from known drug dealers.

Authorities say the only way to cut the homicide rate is to invest more money into the law enforcement system. New York City was able to decrease its rate of violent crimes by simply putting more officers on the ground; the homicide rate has thus decreased dramatically since 1990. Data tracking could also improve crime prevention in the area.

Kansas City still suffers from a persistently high homicide rate. Defendants who have been charged with such violent crimes deserve the full protection of the American court system, however, no matter the nature of the allegations they face. Criminal defense attorneys can help these individuals learn more about their legal rights.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Kansas City homicides in 2013 followed a tragic pattern" Christine Vendel, Jan. 01, 2014

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