'Nobody Should Die In North Carolina Because Race Played A Role In Getting The Death Sentence'

Apr 14, 2014

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Monday afternoon, the state Supreme Court heard the cases of four former death row prisoners whose sentences were commuted to life in prison under the Racial Justice Act.

State lawmakers repealed the Racial Justice Act last year. That act allowed death row inmates to use statistical evidence of racial bias to challenge their sentences. The cases heard today are still pending.

Attorney Danielle Elder represented the state in court this morning. She and other prosecutors argue that a previous ruling was based on jury selection statistics that were too broad.

Meanwhile, the defendants' attorneys said the courts should not allow racial stereotypes to contribute to people being put on death row.

Attorney Don Beskind represented Marcus Robinson, the first death row inmate whose sentence was commuted under the Racial Justice Act.
"The point is that nobody should die in North Carolina because race played a role in them getting the death sentence. They may spend the rest of their life in jail, but they shouldn't die," said Beskind.

It could take months before the state supreme court issues decisions in these cases.