In a landmark ruling in Fayetteville, N.C., a judge ruled that condemned killer Marcus Robinson should by removed from death row and instead be forced to serve a life sentence after it was determined that the murder trial had been tainted by racially motivated decisions made by the prosecution.
Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks’ ruling comes as the first test of a 2009 state law, North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act, which allows capital murder defendants and death row prisoners to challenge prosecutors’ decisions with statistics and evidence arbitrary of witness testimony and documents. Weeks was quoted having said Friday in Fayetteville:
“The Racial Justice Act represents a landmark reform in capital sentencing in our state. There are those who disagree with this, but it is the law.”
Two Michigan State University law professors released a study, one which Weeks found highly reliable, in which they stated that prosecutors eliminated black jurors more than twice as much as they did white jurors. Additionally, Weeks stated that race played a “persistent, pervasive, and distorting role” in the jury selection process and that the only possible explanation could be:
“… prosecutors have intentionally discriminated.”
While prosecutors have conveyed their intent to challenge Judge Weeks’ decision regarding Robinson’s case, the case is merely the first of more than 150 pending cases which will eventually receive evidentiary hearings.
Marcus Robinson was convicted, along with co-defendant Roderick Williams Jr., of murdering 17-year-old Erik Tornblom with a sawed-off shotgun. Much the opposite from the racially charged murder-trial involving white-hispanic George Zimmerman and 17-year-old black teenager, Trayvon Martin, Robinson’s case entails a black on white murder.
Due to the nature of Robinson’s case and in light of the aforementioned study by two MSU law professors, Weeks ruled race was indeed a factor in the rejection of black jurors by prosecutors. Ultimately, the jury that convicted Marcus in the shooting death of a white teenager in 1991 consisted of one American Indian, two blacks, and nine whites.
Source: Fox News