The Homicide Unit is responsible for the vertical prosecution of all homicides that occur in Mercer County. The unit is staffed with assistant prosecutors and detectives who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to homicides and other matters. The unit also investigates all police shootings, suspicious deaths where the circumstances and cause of death may not be immediately apparent, drug-related deaths and unattended deaths.
Unit detectives work together with local police from the onset of the investigation through prosecution. Local police departments who begin an investigation into a homicide notify the on-call county homicide detective who then contacts the on-call assistant prosecutor. Having the prosecuting attorney assigned from the outset allows for the input of legal guidance at the earliest possible stage. The cooperation between attorney and investigative personnel from the beginning of the case has resulted in an extraordinarily high conviction rate of indicted defendants over the past several years.
Considerable investigative and attorney resources are utilized for the lengthy and difficult preparation necessary for both grand jury and trial presentation of these cases. At the investigative level, unit detectives are often engaged in locating and interviewing witnesses, taking formal written statements, preparing affidavits in support of search warrants, preparing and conducting photographic lineups and determining what forensic testing should be conducted. Thereafter, the detectives assist the unit attorneys in preparing the cases for trial.
Assistant prosecutors assigned to the unit provide legal advice throughout the investigative process and are responsible for presenting cases to the grand jury, formulating and negotiating pleas offers, and representing the State at trial.
The Homicide Unit is also responsible for the investigation of all cold case homicides within Mercer County and continues to revisit these cases for any additional evidence.
The members of the Homicide Unit work closely with the Office of Victim Witness Advocacy to tend to the special needs of families of homicide victims, including keeping them well informed at all stages of the criminal justice process.