SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A death row inmate in California who was convicted of murder in 1986 by a one-member black jury can challenge his conviction and sentence, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday .
Curtis Lee Ervin, who is black, was tried by a predominantly white panel after the prosecutor used peremptory challenges to fire nine of 11 potential black jurors, the Ninth United States Court of Appeals noted in reiterating the challenge of Ervin’s discrimination, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. .
Ervin, 68, of Richmond, was convicted of kidnapping and stabbing Carlene McDonald of El Sobrante to death after accepting $ 2,500 from her ex-husband, Robert McDonald of Pinole, to kill her.
Ervin and McDonald were sentenced to death and another man, Orestes Robinson, received a life sentence.
McDonald and Robinson both died in prison.
The California Supreme Court upheld Ervin’s death sentence in 2000 and he appealed to federal court, where a judge in 2018 found there was no discrimination in jury selection.
However, the appeals court panel ruled 3-0 that the federal judge should reconsider the case using stricter racial bias standards in jury selection than the United States Supreme Court has said. in a 2019 ruling, the Chronicle reported.
Retired prosecutor in the case, James Anderson, told The Chronicle on Friday that race had played no role in his questioning of potential jurors.
“I don’t care whether they are black, white or whatever … if they weren’t able to give me a precise answer on their attachment to the death penalty, they were gone,” he said. declared.
Defense lawyers Pamala Sayasane and Robert Bryan have said Ervin is innocent.
“A black man is in jail because of the prosecutor’s misconduct and racial prejudice,” Sayasane said.
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