<< Quickie Correlations on Crime and Punishment Stats | Main | SCOTUS Rule Changes >>

News Scan

SCOTUS Stays Georgia Execution:  The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed Tuesday's scheduled execution of Keith Tharpe in order to review a claim of racial bias.  Kate Brumback of the Associated Press reports that the stay was granted after the Georgia Supreme Court, a Federal District Judge, and the 11th Circuit had all rejected the claim.  Tharpe, whose own mental health expert called him a "mean son of a bitch," forced his ex-wife's car off the road as she and her sister were heading to work.  He then shot the 29-year-old sister twice with a shotgun and rolled her body into a ditch, before kidnapping his ex-wife and raping her.  He was later caught in Macon trying to withdraw money from his ex-wife's credit union.  His guilt was undisputed.  Tharpe's attorneys say he is deeply remorseful for the killing, and has kicked his drug addiction while in prison. 

Illegal Immigrants Charged With Rapes:  A 19-year-old Salvadorian national, illegally in the U.S., has be charged with the September 2 kidnapping and rape of an 18-year-old woman in Maryland.  Fox News reports that Victor Gonzalez-Gutierres and two accomplices ambushed the victim as she walked to her apartment at 12:30 a.m.  They cut her with a knife, dragged her to a car, and held her captive for several hours while she was repeatedly raped and sodomized while one of the accomplices shot video of the assault.  She was then taken back to her apartment complex and told if she called police, "next time it will be worse."
In another incident, ABC News reports that North Carolina police have arrested 30-year-old German Cruz Capetillo for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl who had run away from home.  ICE reports that Capetillo is in the U.S. illegally and will be facing deportation.


For those who might be curious why SCOTUS stayed Mr. Tharpe's execution:

“In my experience, there are two types of black people: 1. Black folks and 2. Niggers . . . . Because I knew the victim and her husband’s family and knew them all to be good black folks, I felt Tharpe, who wasn’t in the ‘good’ black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did. . . . After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls.” – Sworn testimony of Barney Gattie, a white juror who voted to impose Keith Tharpe’s death sentence.

The state Supreme Court, the Federal District Court, the 11th Circuit and the only black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court voted against the stay.

Were the statements of the juror racist? Yes.
Was the evidence of guilt questionable? No.
Did the racist statements make the sentence unfair? Absolutely not. And if Tharpe were white and a black juror made the same kind of statements it would not change the fact that he was guilty and deserved a death sentence for the brutal rape of his ex-wife after she witnessed him blow her sister apart with a shotgun.

Do the victims, who in this case were black, matter at all?

This case is different from the Pena-Rodriguez case decided last term, where the juror asserted stereotyped views during deliberations as a reason to believe the defendant is guilty.

As I understand the facts of this case (and I haven't looked into it in detail), the juror merely expressed prejudiced views in general when interviewed much later.

When we adopt a jury system, we decide that cases are going to be decided by ordinary folks. Most folks have prejudices of one sort or another. If the fact that a juror is prejudiced is a reason to overturn a jury verdict, we might as well scrap the jury system.

The safeguards are having 12 jurors, requiring them to be unanimous, voir dire, and challenges. (States that skimp on 12 and unanimous in the guilt phase should reconsider, pronto. They are on thin ice.) One bigot cannot convict anyone.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives