USA. JUSTICES CITE RACIAL BIAS, THROW OUT DEATH SENTENCE
March 19, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Snyder v. Louisiana, threw out the death sentence and conviction in a Louisiana murder case, citing racial prejudice in the actions of a prosecutor who kept black people off the jury.
By a 7-2 vote, the justices said Jefferson Parish prosecutor Jim Williams improperly excluded blacks from the jury that convicted Allen Snyder of killing his estranged wife's companion.
Snyder is black and the jurors were white. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said the trial judge should not have allowed Williams to strike a black juror. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Stevens, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented.
Snyder was convicted of 1st-degree murder in Jefferson Parish. He was found guilty of repeatedly slashing his estranged wife, Mary Snyder, and a man, Harold Wilson, with a knife when he found them in a car outside her mother's home on Aug. 17, 1995. His wife survived, but Wilson died.
The case was argued in December.
Snyder will get a new trial as a result of the ruling. (Sources: The Times-Picayune, SCOTUS Blog, 19/03/2008)