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Mosby announces that commercials, billboards will encourage witnesses in Baltimore to testify in court

Pledging more help for the victims and witnesses of crimes, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced plans Thursday to produce a series of TV and radio commercials intended to encourage people to come to court and testify.

Mosby said billboards also will carry her message across the city.

“It’s outrageous when an 83-year-old senior can be shot in the street, broad daylight, and nobody wants to come forward,” Mosby said.

In Baltimore, police and prosecutors have long struggled with a street culture of “no snitching” and “snitches get stitches” in their fight against crime. About one third of the criminal cases that prosecutors drop are because witnesses and victims wouldn’t come to court, Mosby said.

“We cannot get bad guys off the street if we don’t have people coming forward,” she said.

In addition, Mosby announced her office has increased to 25 the staff who help families by driving them to court and sitting beside them during trial. By comparison, the office has 15 homicide prosecutors.

State and federal grants are paying for the ad campaign. Mosby said Gov. Larry Hogan also has added $2.3 million in his proposed budget for witness protection in Baltimore. Mosby said her office has relocated 481 victims and witnesses since she took office four years ago. The office has been running a deficit of $360,000 a year on those relocation expenses.

In announcing her campaign, Mosby stood with Marlin Smith, whose son was killed in July 2017, and Tom Vaise, whose brother was killed four years ago. Both men said they were comforted by the staff.

“They helped me a lot and sat with me during the trial and gave me rides,” Vaise said. “They were there when I needed some comfort.”

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/tim_prudente

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