By Jake Lee Green
Kern Valley Sun
According to the Office of the District Attorney of Kern County (DA), homicides have declined in the year of 2019 as announced by Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer on December 30, 2019. A year-end review of 2019 has shown that homicides in Kern County decreased over a four-year span which had been rising since 2015. This seems to be consistent with the reports from the Department of Justice (DOJ.)
According to the statistics provided by the Department of Justice, the total number of homicides in Kern County was 90 people. The report, which excludes officer-involved shootings, had steadily been increasing in a four-year trend from 2015-2018. In 2014, there were 59 reported homicides which jumped to 64 in 2015. The biggest increase in reported homicides during that period was when the number jumped from 89, in 2017, to 101, in 2018. The Department of Justice typically releases its annual report in July following the year. In this case, data for 2019 will be released in July 2020 by the DOJ.
An eleven percent decrease in homicides in 2019 has been reported in the District Attorney’s preliminary data as compared to 2018. In addition, the DA of Kern County has seen an increase in prosecution rates in 2019 for criminal homicide cases. The DA’s Office completed 31 homicide trials in 2019. Out of the 31 trials, 26 have seen successful convictions. Although, it is notable to mention that traffic-related homicide cases are not considered in this count to maintain consistency with the reporting done by the DOJ.
According to the data collected, there is an overall increase of prosecutions in the rising number of trials being conducted for homicide. Some of this is due to more attentive participation from the Grand Jury of Kern County who have helped in the prosecution of several major murder cases. The DA has been increasing its inquiries of the Grand Jury to investigate and issue indictments in homicide cases. One case, in particular, is highly notable. The case against Prentice Foreman in 2019 ended in a guilty verdict after a jury took into consideration forensic DNA evidence linking Foreman, age 61 at the time of trial, to the murder and rape of Dawn Koons in 1979. The 40-year-old cold case was finally put to rest with the help of the Grand Jury of Kern County and the prosecution team from the DA’s office.
District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer stated, “2019 marked the end of four years of increasing homicides in our county. The reduction in violence is encouraging, but, there is still more work to be done. I will continue to dedicate our efforts to investigate and prosecute homicide crimes and get the killers off our streets and into prison, where they belong.”