On Tuesday (October 11), a divided Court rejected inmate Andre Thomas’ appeal after he was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, who was white, and two children in 2004. The liberal SCOTUS justices dissented from the Court’s decision to turn away the challenge.
“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, with Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson joining her opinion that Thomas’ death sentence should be overturned.
Thomas confessed to killing his estranged wife, Laura Christine Boren, their son, Andre Lee, 4, and her 13-month-old daughter, Leyha Marie Hughes in 2004, citing that God told him to commit the crime. He stabbed all three and attempted to remove their hearts, according to court filings.
Thomas was convicted by an all-white jury in which three of its members explicitly expressed disapproval of interracial marriage.
One of the jurors wrote on a questionnaire: “I think we should stay with our Blood Line.” Another said interracial relationships were “against God’s will,” according to court filings. A third juror said interracial relationships were harmful to children because “they do not have a specific race to belong to.”
Prosecutors argued that the three jurors said they would follow the law and deliver an impartial verdict despite their views on interracial relationships like the one Thomas had with his estranged wife. They agreed that Thomas was in a psychotic state when he committed the killings, but said he willfully ingested a cough medicine that can cause irrational behavior.
His execution date is still pending.
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