The media has long been known to highlight grisly crimes such as murder, especially when law enforcement arrests a high profile suspect. Within a matter of minutes, the world can catch a glimpse of these suspects, who are often later cleared from their charges. Many media consumers are quick to forget the individuality of these suspects, who are commonly thrown under an overwhelming spotlight for lengthy periods of time only to be acquitted. Texas law protects these individuals, who maintain innocence but are often never truly purged from the emotional burden of publicity.
Charges based on false — or worse, nonexistent — evidence occur more often than one might assume. NBC News reported on an accusation that took place in Houston in June of 2016, in which a man was arrested for the murder of an eleven-year-old boy. The boy was stabbed while walking home from school just a month prior to the arrest. DNA tests showed no connection between the victim and the man many claimed to be responsible for the child’s death. While investigators identified the man as the suspect using surveillance video, the Harris County senior prosecutor Tiffany Dupree deemed the footage inconclusive. And although the former suspect was freed of his charges, the homocide detectives of the Houston Police maintain that the man is the suspect in the case.
Just months later, another Houston resident found herself in a devastating legal situation propelled by the media. According to the Houston Chronicle, a young nurse discovered her husband shot to death in February of this year; she was later charged for murder. She called 911 and reported the scene, but was allegedly denied a lawyer. Although friends and family bonded the woman out from behind bars within three days of her arrest, the nurse now faces a multitude of legal challenges, including the loss of her job and a long, ignominious media trail. Situations such as these tragedies can not only affect friends and families of the victims, but those wrongly accused, as well.