Who writes Homicide Tracker and how do I contact them?
You can reach the KGET assignment desk by calling (661) 283-1717 or emailing HomicideTracker@KGET.com
What is a “homicide?”
Homicide Tracker lists cases designated by the Kern County Coroner’s Office as “homicides.” That includes most intentional killings of one person by another person. It includes murder and manslaughter, but not all homicides are crimes. For example, self-defense killings by police can be designated homicides.
What is not included in the term “homicide?”
The coroner’s office designates traffic deaths as accidents because any other legal culpability – such as vehicular manslaughter – must be determined by the legal system, sometimes months later. Consequently, for example, a driver may be convicted of murder in a drunken driving death that the coroner has designated an accident.
The cause of some deaths are not immediately known. The coroner may list the cause of these deaths as “pending” and decide to add them or not add them after investigation.
Are any homicides not listed?
Yes. The Kern County Coroner’s Office keeps some killings secret for, a spokesman said, “investigative purposes” and other reasons. The spokesman said the total number of homicides is released publicly, but all details about some cases are withheld. Because there is no information on these cases, they aren’t used in most statistical analysis appearing in Homicide Tracker.
Why do we report the race of those involved in these cases?
Although KGET and Telemundo Bakersfield generally do not report the race of people mentioned in news stories, we include them in Homicide Tracker in an effort to present a thorough demographic analysis of violent crime and because we believe it is important in noting trends. For example, in 2015 African Americans made up 6.3 percent of Kern’s population, but more than 17 percent of homicide victims. We use the racial designation provided by the Kern County Coroner’s Office.
How often is Homicide Tracker updated?
We intend to update Homicide Tracker with every development. We will add each homicide as it happens and keep up with the investigation and prosecution of past homicides. Additionally, we welcome viewer input and invite suggestions on cases we should update.
Why are there rewards in some cases but not in others?
Kern County Secret Witness is a fund that is independent of local law enforcement. An investigating agency can request a reward for a case through Secret Witness. The Secret Witness board votes whether to approve the reward.
Also: The coroner catalogs homicides by date of death, not by date of injury. Someone injured in 2015 who dies in 2016 is classified as a 2016 homicide.
Also: Where a body is found might – or might not – determine which county logs the homicide on its list. Usually, the county of death has jurisdiction, but the county where the injury happened can request authority over the death. “That’s pretty common, ” said Ray Pruitt of the Kern County Sheriff’s and Coroner’s Office, “Particularly in death cases in the desert when the person lives in our jurisdiction (Mojave, Rosamond, Boron for example) but is transported to Antelope Valley Hospital in L.A. County and pronounced deceased in L.A. County.”
Also: It’s possible the coroner to not be involved in a homicide at all in the extremely rare instance where no body is found.