Thursday, April 02, 2015

Coalition asks Nixon to appoint panel to investigate death penalty case

(From Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty)

The State of Missouri is scheduled to execute Andre Cole on April 14 and Kimber Edwards on May 12 despite evidence that all black potential jurors were removed from each those capital juries by St Louis County prosecutors simply because they were black. The NAACP, ACLU, and dozens of other organizations and congregations in St Louis and around the state have joined in a call for Governor Nixon to convene a Board of Inquiry to halt the executions and investigate this issue.

In a letter delivered to Governor Nixon, numerous state legislators and organizations representing thousands of Missouri residents from across the state joined in the request to investigate the systemic exclusion of African-American jurors in death penalty cases from St. Louis County, particularly by all-white decision-makers.

The letter described the “postman gambit” – a creation of a St Louis prosecutor in the Herbert Smulls case in 1992 to removes African Americans from death penalty juries simply because they work at the post office. The “postman gambit” has been used since then to secure all-white juries, including in Mr. Edwards’ case.

There are currently 11 prisoners on Missouri’s death row who are from St. Louis County. Seven of those 11, or 64 percent, are African-American—even though African Americans comprise only 24 percent of St. Louis County’s population.

National attention focused on racial bias of law enforcement and other state actors in Missouri since the incidents in Ferguson should make the Governor more sensitive to these claims. Disturbingly, Governor Nixon has allowed other executions of similarly-situated condemned men to go forward -- now is the time to halt executions and investigate these issues that have the whole world watching Missouri.

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