On Tuesday the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a Black man on death row in Texas who said he didn’t get a fair trial because of racial bias among jurors.
According to CBS Austin, in a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court rejected Andre Thomas’ appeal after he claimed some of the jurors who convicted him objected to interracial marriage.
The court did not elaborate on the reasons Thomas’ case was declined. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented from the court’s ruling stating his death sentence was unconstitutional.
“No jury deciding whether to recommend a death sentence should be tainted by potential racial biases that could infect its deliberations or decision, particularly where the case involved an interracial crime,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.
Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan both joined Justice Sotomayor in her opinion.
“This case involves a heinous crime apparently committed by someone who suffered severe psychological trauma,” said Sotomayor.
“Whether Thomas’ psychological disturbances explain or in any way excuse his commission of murder, however, is beside the point. No jury deciding whether to recommend a death sentence should be tainted by potential racial biases that could infect its deliberations or decision, particularly where the case involved an interracial crime.”
In 2004, Andre Thomas confessed to killing his wife who was estranged, their 4-year-old son, and her 13-month-old daughter. According to NBC News, Thomas stabbed all three of them to death, claiming he hoped to “set them free from evil.” After his arrest, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. A few days later while in prison, Thomas pulled out one of his eyeballs after reading a bible passage. Years later he would remove his other eye, confessing to a guard that he ate it.
In 2005 he was found guilty by an all-white jury and sentenced to death. During the trial, three of the jurors expressed their displeasure with interracial couples with one stating, “against God’s will,” and another confessing that “we should stay within our bloodline.”
Since his guilty verdict, Thomas has had multiple appeals rejected, including an appeal from Thomas’ lawyers claiming he should not be executed because he is mentally ill as well as a claim that his lawyer didn’t provide competent representation.
The latest rejection from the Supreme Court means Thomas will remain on death row until he is put to death, although no execution date has been set.
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