Defendants Resentenced to Life Imprisonment Without the Possibility of Parole
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FAYETTEVILLE, NC – Three North Carolina death-row inmates were resentenced to life in prison without parole after a state judge found that racial discrimination in jury selection played a key role in securing their sentences.
Tilmon Golphin, Christina Walters and Quintel Augustine will spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole, under the provisions of the North Carolina Racial Justice Act. The law, passed in 2009 and one of only two such statutes in the nation, allows death-row inmates to present evidence that race influenced their sentencing process. All three were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The Court takes hope that acknowledgment of the ugly truth of race discrimination revealed by Defendants’ evidence is the first step in creating a system of justice that is free from the pernicious influence of race, a system that truly lives up to our ideal of equal justice under the law,” Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks ruled.
Cassandra Stubbs, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, said the ruling affirmed that racial bias has no place in capital cases.
“In his historic ruling, Judge Weeks found pervasive evidence that prosecutors used race when deciding who should serve on capital juries. Whether we look at the big picture of the statistical evidence or the close-up evidence from the prosecutors' notes, there was overwhelming proof of discrimination,” Stubbs said. “The court sent the unmistakable message that prosecutors must change their jury selection practices if they want to seek the death penalty.”
For more information on the Racial Justice Act, visit: http://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/north-carolina-racial-justice-act