Should death penalty be thrown out if juror biased?
Keith Tharpe was convicted in 1991 of killing his sister-in-law and kidnapping and raping his estranged wife on Sept. 25, 1990. The wife left him and moved in with her parents. He intercepted her and her sister, Jacqueline Freeman, while they were on their way to work. He killed Freeman, , dragged his estranged wife in a ditch and raped her and drove her to Macon to force her to withdraw money from her credit union account.
With only 100 days to prepare the case, Tharpe’s defense team lost the trial. The jury unanimously sentenced him to death.
Eight years later, claims of a racially biased juror surfaced. The man in question, Barney Gattie, admitted he used racial epithets and racially biased language when describing Tharpe. Now-deceased, Gattie signed an affidavit for Tharpe’s lawyers stating that. Two days later, he signed another affidavit for the state saying that he voted for Tharpe to receive the death penalty because he was a cold, calculated murderer, not because he was black.
Tharpe’s lawyers filed new motions after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that courts can examine what happened in a jury room when there are showings that racial prejudice played a role in the deliberations.
U.S. District judge rejected the claims because 10 other jurors said there was no racial animus in their deliberations.
Tharpe’s lawyers are now asking the 11th Circuit to consider the juror misconduct claim.
What do you think? Should the death penalty be thrown out? Send your response to email@example.com.