Allegheny County's district attorney presses county to videotape homicide interviews

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Allegheny County's top prosecutor said Friday he is upset that county police have not begun videotaping interviews with homicide suspects, as he asked them to eight months ago.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said he gave the county police $500 worth of video equipment to begin videotaping homicide interviews.

"They were directed to do that in February of this year and they're not doing it yet," he said. "They say, 'yes, yes, yes,' ... and they're not implementing it."

County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said his department does not object to videotaping the interviews but did not find the equipment Mr. Zappala supplied or the equipment offered by another vendor compatible with the county police system.

He did not say specifically which aspects of the equipment did not work well with the county police system and said he consults often with one person in the department on technology matters.

Superintendent Moffatt said the department will begin videotaping homicide interviews but he did not have a time frame for doing so.

Mr. Zappala said he believes the videotaped interviews provide officials and juries with more detail about the conditions under which interviews are given. He said he hopes that will minimize the number of legal fights over their use, thus speeding up the time between an arrest and trial.

His comments came about an hour after prosecutors played a video of an interview between Pittsburgh homicide detectives and Jordan Bey, 16, of Homewood, at Jordan's preliminary hearing on charges he killed a man along the East Busway.

Mr. Zappala said he has been pleased with how Pittsburgh police have used the videos. He said he expects them to begin videotaping interviews in sex assault cases and possibly other felony cases.


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