Justices give Georgia death row inmate new round of appeals

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Courtroom is giving a Georgia demise row inmate who got here inside minutes of being executed one other probability to boost claims of racial bias on his jury.

The justices voted 6-three Monday to order the federal appeals courtroom in Atlanta to take up the case of inmate Keith Leroy Tharpe. A juror used a racial slur to explain Tharpe years after Tharpe was convicted of killing Jacquelin Freeman, his sister-in-regulation, 27 years in the past.

Justice Clarence Thomas referred to as the courtroom’s unsigned opinion “ceremonial handwringing” in a dissent that predicted Tharpe finally would lose his attraction. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas.

The attraction stems from interviews Tharpe’s authorized staff carried out in 1998 with Barney Gattie, a white juror. Gattie freely used racial slurs and stated his research of the Bible had led him to query “if black individuals even have souls,” in response to courtroom filings. Gattie signed an affidavit, although he later testified that he voted to condemn Tharpe to demise due to the proof towards him.

Within the majority opinion, the courtroom stated that Gattie, who has since died, by no means retracted his “exceptional affidavit” and that it supplies robust proof that “Tharpe’s race affected Gattie’s vote for a demise verdict.”

However Thomas stated the courtroom was letting Gattie’s “odious opinions” trump the suitable strategy to the regulation. “The courtroom’s choice is not any profile in ethical braveness,” Thomas wrote.

The eleventh U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in Atlanta in all probability will attain the identical conclusion and deny Tharpe’s attraction on different grounds, he wrote, referring to his colleagues’ motion as a “ineffective do-over.”

Thomas stated the courtroom’s dealing with of the case “callously delays justice” for Freeman, “the black lady who was brutally murdered by Tharpe 27 years in the past.”

Tharpe’s spouse left him in August 1990, taking their 4 daughters to stay together with her mom. A few month later, Tharpe’s spouse was driving to work together with her brother’s spouse when Tharpe used a truck to dam them. Armed with a shotgun, he ordered them out of their car and fatally shot Freeman throughout an argument over whether or not his estranged spouse would go together with him, his legal professionals have stated.

Tharpe was tried, convicted and sentenced to demise about three months later.

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