The U.S. Supreme Court temporary halts the execution of a Georgia inmate who argues that a racist juror influenced the death penalty verdict at his trial, Washington Post reports.
Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Tuesday, after the Georgia Supreme Court declined, in a 6 to 3 vote, to stop his execution.
Officials delayed administering the lethal cocktail of drugs while the nation’s highest court considered Tharpe’s case. At 11 p.m. the justices announced the temporary stay.
“I’m glad they’re willing to take the time to consider these serious issues in Mr. Tharpe’s case,” the inmate’s attorney Brian Kammer told the Associated Press.
A jury convicted Tharpe for the 1990 murder of his sister-in-law, Jaquelyn Freeman.
The fatal shooting stemmed from Tharpe pursuing his estranged wife, who walked out on him and took their four daughters. Using a barrowed truck, Tharpe blocked the vehicle that his wife and Freeman were driving and confronted the women, fatally shooting his sister-in-law.
Long after his trial, Tharpe’s legal team interviewed Barney Gattie, a White juror from his trial. Gattie referred to Tharpe using the N-word and made other racist remarks during the interview. Gattie, who is now deceased, later denied that he’s a racist.
The Post reported that Tharpe’s clemency application states that the inmate abused alcohol from age 10 and later developed a crack cocaine addiction. His attorney assured the justices that their client has deep remorse for killing Freeman and has overcome his additions while in prison. Additionally, he’s now a deeply spiritual man who seeks to help others.