Officials respond after leak of photos from Columbus County murder crime scene
COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - District Attorney Jon David and Columbus County Sheriff Bill Rogers issued a joint statement Tuesday after photos from a crime scene were leaked and shared on social media.
The photos were taken during the investigation of the murder of Julian Juan Fipps on Jan. 9. Xavier Thomas was later charged with Fipps’ murder.
“This is a disturbing development for several reasons. First, the case remains a pending investigation as the case has not been resolved yet in a Columbus County courtroom. This disclosure potentially affects our ability to get justice in the case by exposing evidence to the community prior to that same evidence being properly admitted in a court of law. The goal of every case in the judicial system is for a case to be judged on the admissible evidence by a jury that has yet to form an opinion about someone’s guilt or innocence,” the announcement states.
The statement says that the evidence was hurtful to the victim’s family.
“The idea that someone would post this information for their own benefit and to increase viewership of their social media site is sickening and reflects the true motivations of the author. Our hearts go out to the victim’s family, who are subjected to this public indignity at a time they are privately grieving the loss of a child.”
Officials say that they have a commitment to the ‘absolute confidentiality of pending cases’ and that discovery rules mandate that discovery is turned over to the defendant via their defense counsel. This information is sent to the defendant’s attorney via a secured electronic system.
“The public should rest assured that the District Attorney’s Office and the Columbus County Sheriff’s Department work tirelessly to bring justice to victims and their families. The upmost care is given to ensure a favorable outcome for the State. The reckless disclosure of information of pending cases compromises this goal, and as such, we are committed to protecting this information to the extent we have the ability to do so.”
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