ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The first big push for the Tristyn Bailey Foundation – Senate Bill 404 signed by Governor DeSantis on Thursday — prohibits the release of crime scene photos of the killing of a child in Florida.
The family’s attorney helped write the bill into law. The law under public records no longer requires the release of photos, video, audio recordings, and autopsy reports related to domestic violence.
Matt Hinson, the Bailey Family’s attorney, said this moment for Tristyn Bailey’s family shows how their daughter, sister, and friend, are making a change.
“If this were in effect before what happened to Tristyn happened, how do you think this would have impacted the family?” Hinson said. “It would have taken some of the anxiety of those requests away from them.”
Hinson said there were multiple requests to see photos of the crime scene.
Tristyn Bailey, 13, was brutally murdered by her schoolmate in May 2021. Since then, horrific details of her killing have been shared across the world.
Bailey’s family feared the crime scene photos would land in irresponsible outlets’ hands.
“Those folks don’t have the same standards,” Hinson said. “And they have an equal right to request these photos. Well, not anymore they don’t. In the state of Florida, you’re not going to come in Florida and you’re not going to get photos of the crime scene of the child has been murdered.”
Getting the law passed was not an easy task.
The legislature was mid-session and they added their cause to the Rex and Brody Act to help it stick. In that case, two boys from Alachua County were killed by their dad.
State leaders said despite the boys’ mothers’ objections, the medical examiner released their autopsy reports to the press – citing state law.
“Because of these types of instruments, those websites that are horrid, because of our public records get those pictures the photographs the descriptions the videos and they place them online,” Rep. Charles Clemons, a member of the Florida House of Representatives, said. " It’s not just the hurt of losing their beloved child, that’s not it. It never ends there. this is eternal hurt.”
Hinson said this is what the family foundation is all about.
“It’s active and protecting the community. It’s active in protecting the children of our community. And it’s going to continue on because this foundation is about her life and legacy. And that’s, that’s never going to die. That bright light is going to continue to shine forever.”
Public Records/Photograph or Video or Audio Recording of the Killing of a Minor/Autopsy Reports of Minors; Creating an exemption from public records requirements for a photograph or video or audio recording of the killing of a minor, with exceptions; creating the “Rex and Brody Act”; creating an exemption from public records requirements for autopsy reports of minors whose deaths were related to acts of domestic violence; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemption; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.CS/SB 404: Public Records/Photograph or Video or Audio Recording of the Killing of a Minor/Autopsy Reports of Minors