The Supreme Court rejected Andre Thomas’ appeal to his death sentence despite his claims that several jurors were racially biased in their decision at trial, per a report from NBC News. Thomas, who was found guilty of killing his white wife, alleged some jurors had expressed blatant opposition to interracial relationships.
Thomas’ story isn’t easy to digest. He was accused of murdering his estranged wife Laura Boren and their two children in Texas. Reports say he stabbed them to death and tried to remove their hearts to “set them free from evil.” Thomas confessed to the murders but acted obscenely ahead of court. Before the trial for the murder of his daughter, he gouged his eye out. Years later, he gouged the other one out ... and ate it.
To be honest, his egregious crimes and bizarre behavior could have landed him the same or a similar sentence if the jury was multiracial. Though, Thomas’ allegations of having his fate decided by a racist jury remains a valid concern for other cases aside from his own.
Read about the jurors from NBC News:
In contesting his conviction, Thomas’ lawyers argued that the jury was tainted because three members during the selection process had expressed opposition to people of different races marrying or having children, which was pertinent to the facts of the case because of Thomas’ marriage to Boren.
One juror said that he opposed interracial relationships because it was “against God’s will,” according to court filings. Another said “we should stay within our blood line” when asked the same question. The third juror said interracial relationships are harmful to children because “they do not have a specific race to belong to.”
At the trial, the prosecutor also asked the jury, “Are you going to take the risk about him asking your daughter out or your granddaughter out?” Thomas’ lawyers said the statement appealed to the jury’s biases.
The judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which covers Texas along with other southern states are 82 percent white, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. Plus, jury discrimination in death penalty cases, specifically, are not uncommon. EJI’s report found the Supreme Court has a habit of rejecting claims of racially biased jury selection. Even the extensive history of racism within jury selection wasn’t enough to stir the Court’s conservative majority on re-sentencing Thomas.
Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the dissent, siding with Andre Thomas that his jury jeopardized the case.
“No jury deciding whether to recommend a death sentence should be tainted by potential racial biases that could infect its deliberation or decision, particularly where the case involved an interracial crime,” Sotomayor wrote.