Sep 19, 2021 19:19 UTC
  • California court overturns murder convictions of three Black men, cites racism

An appeals court in the US state of California has overturned the convictions of three Black men over a double murder, saying their conviction happened because prosecutors dismissed a Black woman from the jury pool for racial reasons.

A division of the First Appellate District of California said the prosecutor in the Contra Costa County case inappropriately questioned the 25-year-old woman’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement and removed her from the panel.

The court said she was removed for reasons that “were plainly tied to race.”

In addition, “there was evidence that the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office in general, and this prosecutor in particular, had in the past exercised peremptory challenges on the basis of race,” Presiding Justice Jim Humes wrote in the decision, according to the Associated Press.

The ruling overturns the 2016 convictions of Sheldon Silas, 33; Reginald Whitley, 40, and Lamar Michaels, 34. The three are serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of Christopher Zinn, 24, and his girlfriend, Brieanna Dow, 21.

The unanimous decision by Division One of the First Appellate District of California said that then-Deputy District Attorney Melissa Smith’s questioning of Potential Juror 275 was “inappropriate.” The woman is not named in court records.

Independent analysts have said that there is international racism against African Americans in the US system.

According to a recent poll, more than six in 10 people in the United States say racism against African Americans is widespread in the country.

About 82 percent of Blacks and 56 percent of whites say racism against Blacks is widespread. Also, 66 percent of Hispanics perceive racism against Blacks as widespread.