Q: So, my question is complicated. I'm the "long lost" son of a murder victim. What info do I have access to, legally?
1979 my mom was was murdered. I was hidden away. Now i'm trying to find mugshots, news articles, transcripts...I am having trouble. What do I do?
A: If you know the name of the defendant you can find information related to the criminal case in the felony division of the District Clerk's office in the county that prosecuted the killer. Any transcripts are probably long gone unless the case was appealed and attorney who handled the appeal still has them or they were attached to the appeal briefs. Mug shots might be with the County Sheriff's Office in the county where the defendant was jailed. For newspaper articles check the public library in the city where the crime occurred.
Michael Hamilton Rodgers agrees with this answer
Newspaper clippings can get you started. Unfortuneately, many of Texas' newspapers have gone under, but even if your county has lost its primary newspaper, you can go to your public library and research from there. If you're lucky enough to have access to a still-functioning newspaper, it might allow you to view its back issues. Also, you might get a reporter interested in your story and want to write a piece on you. This would really open up your access to the facts and circumstances of your mom's case.
If the murderer was prosecuted, there's a good chance the case actually went to trial. I was practicing criminal law back then and, in Dallas County, a great percentage of murder cases went to jury trial. If so, you might be able to find the prosecutor(s) who tried the case.
I want to add you should make a Freedom of Information Act request for information from whichever agency primarily investigated the case. This will usually be the police department in the city where the crime took place. If it happened outside the city limits, then the county sheriff's office may be the correct agency. DPS and the Texas Rangers also investigate certain murders, you'll just have to ask around town or the old neighborhood to get info on which agency was involved. Occasionally the FBI or other federal law enforcement agency will have info.
You really shouldn't have too much trouble figuring out which agency was involved.
And I should have mentioned the best place to get info would be your county's Criminal District Attorney's Office. Apologies for leaving the most important source of info until last.
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