WICHITA, Kansas -- A tipster that provided information leading to arrests in a murder case will remain anonymous.
Crime Stoppers is calling it a big win.
"We're very pleased," said Gordan Bassham with Crime Stoppers. "Because this protects Crime Stoppers and the sanctity of the information that we get. Nobody is going to want to call Crime Stoppers if we are forced to reveal the names of our tipsters."
Judge Greg Waller ruled Friday.
"Informants are amongst that class," said Waller. "That category who are highly protected under the laws of the United States and in the state of Kansas."
Waller is ruling this week, saying the prosecution cannot be required to reveal the name of the tipster in the murder case of Jordan Turner, 19, whose body was found in a field in southeast Wichita. Three people are charged with his murder: Ebony Nguyen, Erick Jackson and Kristoffer Wright. The tip came in on May 2, 2013, about a week after Turner's body was found.
Waller said that according to Kansas law, tipsters should not be considered an informant, and in this case, the individual qualifies as a tipster. An informant would have conversations with police and actively work with officers in a case. Waller said that in this case, someone just called in a tip.
Attorneys say dealing with informants or tipsters in cases can be complicated.
On Friday, criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat said the defense made a very good case.
"In that event where it is necessary for the accused to know the identity of the informant," explains Monnat, "In order to defend themselves, the so-called informant privilege must give way and the identity of the informant must be made known to the accused."
Monnat says if the anonymous information is in the possession of the prosecutor, the prosecutor may have a duty to make the identity of the tipster known.
The catch here is that no one has that information, according to the Wichita Crime Commission.
"If we are subpoenaed for information and the judge allows it through the only thing they're gonna get is gonna be info about the informant," explains head of the Wichita Crime Commission Gordon Bassham.
Bassham says not even Crime Stoppers knows who that caller was. And he says regardless - he's not giving out the information. Bassham also calls the ruling a big win.
"We're very pleased because this protects CRIME STOPPERS and the sanctity of the information that we get," explains Bassham. "Nobody is going to want to call Crime Stoppers if we are forced to reveal the names of our tipsters."
Monnat adds, as history dating back to World War II shows, a successful defense doesn't have to rely on anonymous tipsters or informants.
"Their testimony or evidence was deemed inadmissible in court it's really only since then that the use of informants has crescendoed to the level that it now exists," explains Monnat.
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