NC Trial Addresses Racism in Application of Death Penalty
In 2009, North Carolina enacted the Racial Justice Act which requires a judge to convert a death sentence to life in prison without parole if it is later shown that race played a significant role in the conviction or sentence. To make the showing, the Act permits the introduction of statistical evidence.
The defendant doesn't have to prove race caused the verdict, only that it played a significant role, meaning:
...that race weighed heavily in prosecutors' and jurors' decisions concerning the death penalty "in the county, the prosecutorial district, the judicial division, or the State at the time the death sentence was sought or imposed."
Closing arguments concluded yesterday in the first hearing under the Act, which has taken 2 1/2 weeks. The case involves Marcus Reymond Robinson, an African American, who was sentenced to death for killing a 17 year old white man. He is challenging his conviction and sentence, arguing there was racial bias in jury selection and in the criminal justice system.[More...]
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