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US Supreme Court rejects death row inmate's race claim over 'unfair trial'

US Supreme Court rejects death row inmate's race claim over 'unfair trial'

Andre Thomas was convicted of killing his wife and children by an all-white jury

The US Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of a death row inmate who claimed he received an unfair trial due to the racist views of jurors.

Andre Thomas was convicted of killing his wife, Laura Christine Boren, their son, Andre Jr, and her daughter by another man, Leyha Hughes.

He does not deny the 2004 killings in Sherman, Texas; however, his legal team argued that he had received an unfair trial, as members of the all-white jury had expressed racist views, with three opposing interracial marriage.

Wiliam Perry / Alamy Stock Photo

The court turned down the appeal by a 6-3 majority.

"This case involves a heinous crime apparently committed by someone who suffered severe psychological trauma," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissent joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, as per The Texas Tribune.

"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."

Suffering from schizophrenia, Thomas murdered his 20-year-old wife, their four-year-old son and her 13-month-old daughter.

After stabbing them to death, he attempted to cut out their hearts, believing they were possessed by demons.

He subsequently attempted suicide.

In the following days, in his prison cell, he gouged out one of his eyes. And in 2008, he gouged out the other while on death row.

Sotomayor dissented.
dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

The 39-year-old's lawyer, Maurie Levin, said in a statement today (Tuesday 11 October): "To pursue his execution would be nothing but an ugly spectacle and would not make Texans safer.

"No one who hears the story of Mr. Thomas' life believes he is mentally competent.

"Guiding a blind, delusional man onto Texas' gurney would be an indelible image that would cast a permanent shadow over Texas' reputation.

"Texas can keep the public safe by keeping Mr. Thomas in prison for life."

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had urged the Supreme Court not to step in, stating in court papers that Thomas' counsel had 'questioned one of the jurors at issue about racial bias extensively in voir dire'.

He added: "The trial court ensured that the other two could render an impartial verdict in view of the evidence, and the record shows other reasons why defence counsel might have wanted these jurors to serve on the jury."

 If you or someone you know is struggling or in mental health crisis, help is available through Mental Health America. Call or text 988 or chat You can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741

Featured Image Credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice / Ian Dagnall / Alamy

Topics: US News, Crime