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Supreme Court stays execution to consider granting cert on juror bias claim

Supreme Court stays execution to consider granting cert on juror bias claim”

"I felt Tharpe, who wasn't in the "good" black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did", Gattie continued, adding, "After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls".

Georgia Resource Center attorney Brian Kammer, one of several Tharpe lawyers, said the Supreme Court issued the stay of execution because it wants to review a lower federal appeals court denial of the racial issues presented in the appeal.

If the victim's family had been "the type Tharpe is, then picking between life or death for Tharpe wouldn't have mattered so much", Gattie said.

Freeman was traveling to work with Tharpe's estranged wife when Tharpe blocked their vehicle with a borrowed truck, ordered them out and fatally shot Freeman.

Supreme Court stays execution to consider...

In an affidavit by the juror, Gattie — now deceased — said, "In my experience, I have observed that there are two types of black people. 1". Tharpe's wife left him in August 1990 and moved in with her mother, and he made violent threats against them before shooting and killing Freeman and raping his wife, according to a summary of the case from the Georgia Supreme Court. But he later said he had been drinking.

In a clemency application, Tharpe's lawyers described a tough childhood and an extensive history of substance abuse that they say included getting black-out drunk by age 10 and a debilitating crack cocaine habit.

Years after Tharpe's trial, his legal team interviewed a white juror in the case and he freely used the N-word, according to filings by Tharpe's lawyers.

Gattie said that he had not used the word "nigger" as an insult, despite its extremely racist connotation and his having signed an affidavit in which his comments were reproduced.

The Supreme Court in March ruled that if a juror states clearly that he relied on racial stereotypes or animus to reach a conviction, the rules that bar jurors from impeaching their verdicts can be set aside.

The decision halts the execution, at least temporarily, while Tharpe's lawyers make the argument that he should not be subject to the death penalty on the grounds that "racism played a pivotal role" in his sentencing.

Outside the prison walls, several people gathered in the protest area either to support the death penalty and Tharpe's execution or to oppose the ultimate punishment.

The Supreme Court also ruled in favor of a black man in May 2016 who was sentenced to death by a jury of 12 white people from which black jurors were excluded. Georgia argues that the evidence is too attenuated to stop the execution, because it is now impossible to ascertain how Gattie's views affected the deliberations.

They say Tharpe feels deep remorse over Freeman's killing and has kicked his addictions during his time in prison, devoted his life to God and sought to help improve the lives of others. Georgia executed nine people previous year.



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