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Lyric and Devin’s law allows release of names and photos of juveniles sought for serious crimes

A new state law – a portion of which is named “Lyric and Devin’s Law – has been passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper will allow law enforcement agencies to release the names and photos of juveniles who are being sought for serious crimes.

The new law includes a section titled “Lyric and Devin’s Law,” which authorizes the release of identifying information about juvenile suspects charged with serious crimes, such as murder and other Class A to F felonies, providing a judge authorizes the release. Cooper signed the law on August 24.

Lyric and Devin’s Law references the two teens, Devin Clark of Mebane, then 18 and a student at Eastern High School, and Lyric Woods, 14, then a freshman at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough, who were fatally shot and found dead in the woods in western Orange County on September 18, 2022.

Lyric Woods
Devin Clark

Previously, state law only allowed law enforcement officials to release the names, photos, and charges involving alleged juvenile offenders to be released once a case had been transferred from juvenile court to superior court.

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However, the new law only allows the information to be released about juveniles after the filing of a juvenile petition, which is similar to an arrest warrant issued for adult suspects. The photos and names of juvenile suspects must also be removed from law enforcement social media accounts and websites once a juvenile suspect in a serious crime has been apprehended, according to the legislation.

The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association had previously said that privacy provisions within the state’s previous juvenile justice laws had created delays in apprehending the suspect in Clark’s and Woods’ murders, Issiah Ross, who was 17 at the time and fled to Delaware after the alleged killing.

Woods’ and Clark’s bodies were discovered by men riding four-wheelers in the woods, just off a power-line easement near the Buckhorn Flea Marker off Buckhorn Road in Mebane, the afternoon of Sunday, September 18 of last year, according to the Orange County sheriff’s department.

The new law is scheduled to take effect December 1, 2023 and applies to crimes committed on or after that date.

Ross, now 18, is currently scheduled to make his next appearance in Orange County superior court on December 12, 2023.

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