Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Supreme Court Orders New Look at Death Sentence After Racial Slur

  • Juror used N-word, questioned whether black people have souls
  • Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch dissent, say order will ‘delay justice’
Updated on

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ordered a new look at a Georgia inmate’s death sentence after one of the jurors referred to the defendant using a racial slur and questioned whether black people have souls.

The justices, over three dissents, said a federal appeals court was too quick to conclude that racial prejudice didn’t infect the jury’s decision that Keith Leroy Tharpe should be executed for a 1990 murder. The majority, however, said Tharpe still faces a "high bar" to get the death sentence set aside given how long his lawyers waited to raise the issue.