Statement Regarding State v. Cornell McKay:
Today, Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce announced that she had dismissed first-degree robbery and armed criminal action charges against Mr. Cornell McKay.
Given the intense scrutiny and public personal attacks against her and her integrity, the victim no longer wishes to testify at a second trial. She has been deeply affected, not just from the robbery itself, which still haunts her, but from the traumatic aftermath of the defense team’s media barrage over the past year. Each time a victim testifies, it forces him or her to relive the trauma. We understand and fully respect her position. We ask the public and the media to be mindful of the horrific experiences she and other crime victims endure and to respect her rights and her privacy.
Victim and eyewitness participation is paramount in the criminal justice system. Justice cannot be sought on physical or forensic evidence alone. It takes unbelievable courage and resolve to participate in the criminal justice system as a victim and witness - to stand up for their rights, to testify, to take a stand against violence. As a community, we must protect, support and encourage our victims and witnesses. The integrity of the criminal justice system depends on their willingness to come forward. If we silence those who wish to seek justice, we allow the criminals to lay siege to our city.
As prosecutors, our job is seek the truth. It is not only our desire to do so; it is our legal and ethical obligation. We charge only those people we believe are guilty and only when that guilt can be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. We would never tolerate a prosecutor in my office knowingly pursuing charges against an innocent person. We have a solid track record of dismissing cases when information or evidence develops that cause us to question the case. In this case, however, we are unwilling to further traumatize the victim.
At this time, the case is now closed.
Cornell McKay is a young man with a network of strong supporters. It is our understanding that he has expressed his intent to live by the law and pursue his education. We sincerely hope he takes this opportunity to do so.