News Update 07.22.08
Rep. Larry Womble and Rep. Earline Parmon have issued a press release laying the blame for the defeat of the Racial Justice Act at the feet of Senate leaders who let politics get in the way of truth. They hold out hope for next year.
If passed in North Carolina – a state with a death row population that is sixty percent Black despite the Black population in the state being only twenty percent, the Racial Justice Act will allow defendants to use statistics to prove race was a factor in the imposition or decision to seek the death penalty. The historic United States Supreme Court case, McClesky v. Kemp, first utilized statistics in a Georgia capital case to prove that the odds that black males would receive a death sentence increased by 4.3 times if the victim is white.
In North Carolina, a study by University of North Carolina Professor Issac Unah and UNC Law Dean Jack Boger, who also argued the historic McClesky v. Kemp case, revealed that the odds that black males would receive a death sentence increased by 3.5 times if the victim is white.
Race continues to play a role throughout the criminal justice system and to allow race to determine a person’s right to live or die is unacceptable and a flagrant example of failed policymaking decisions at the state and local levels. In a state that has at least twenty-five individuals currently on death row who were tried by all-white juries between the 1990s and the present day, it is difficult to argue that race is a factor that should be ignored.
Moore County has announced its intention to seek the death penalty against Justin Raynal Cotton and Martin Devon McMillan. Both are charged with the murder of Donald Gray Sands last May.
A hearing is scheduled today for Sgt. William Kreutzer, Jr., who faces the death penalty in military court for a 1995 homicide.
Louisiana has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider last month’s decision in Kennedy, which barred the death penalty in cases of child rape where the victim does not die. This makes the folks over at SLAP happy. Louisiana complains that the Court failed to consider two legal developments (which Louisiana failed to put before the Court) in its opinion. Such petitions for rehearing are rarely granted.