Utah law will allow public to request reviews of open cases

January 7, 2020 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new Utah law will enable family members of crime victims to request a review of cases that have been stalled for more than a year.

The law allows checks on the progress of felony cases including homicides and missing persons, KUTV-TV reported Monday.

Under the law, families or victims whose cases meet a specific criteria can write to investigating agencies to begin the review.

Agencies have 30 days to issue reports to county attorneys, who then have 30 to 60 days to conduct reviews that can be passed on to the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Utah state Sen. Todd Weiler, who co-sponsored the law, said people should not have to wait years to know whether an investigation has stalled.

The law is aimed at assisting families who previously had to rely on assurances from law enforcement agencies, he said.

The law does not disregard law enforcement jurisdiction and was crafted with the understanding that cases are complicated and not solved immediately, Weiler said.

He believes families have a reasonable right to understand the progress of investigations, especially if they have to plan funerals or deal with insurance matters.

Lori Wilson first reported the disappearance of her son, Dustin, to the Unified Police Department. The case moved to West Valley City when human remains and some clothing were found in a canal, she said.

The new law could help her obtain a review of the investigation, which she said has moved slowly and failed to provide answers. She believes her son was murdered.

“I’m excited to hear there is something else we can do,” she said, adding that she is concerned her son’s previous prison term may have slowed the investigative effort.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think he’s a priority because of his past,” she said.