• 68°

NC death row inmate to serve life in prison, court rules

By Bryan Anderson, Associated Press/Report for America

A man on death row in North Carolina will soon have his sentence reduced to life without parole, the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

Marcus Robinson is one of four inmates to initially get death penalty sentences reduced using the legal process outlined in the now-defunct Racial Justice Act.

The 2009 law allowed death row inmates to receive life without parole if they could prove through an appeals process that racial bias was the reason or a significant factor for their death sentence. The North Carolina General Assembly amended the Racial Justice Act in 2012 and then repealed the law the following year.

The Supreme Court ruled earlier this summer that the repeal of the law cannot be applied retroactively. This paves the way for more than 100 death row inmates to get the relief they sought while the 2009 law was in place.

In a dissenting opinion, Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby argued that the narrow 4—3 ruling in Robinson’s favor could soon apply to Quintel Augustine, Christina Walters and Tilmon Golphin, all of whom have pending cases with the state Supreme Court.

“This Court’s decision today would seem to control the outcome of these cases as well,” Newby wrote.

Cassandra Stubbs, who represented Robinson and serves as director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Capital Punishment Project, called the court’s decision “a strong condemnation of racial bias in capital cases” and praised the majority of justices who decided to reduce Robinson’s sentence.

“I’m very pleased for him and his family that he will be safe from the threat of any additional proceeding and the threat of a death sentence,” Stubbs said.

Attorney General Josh Stein’s office said it is still reviewing the court’s decision.

The Cumberland County Superior Court had sentenced Robinson to death for the June 1991 slaying of 17-year-old Erik Tornblom. Robinson was 18 years old at the time. In 2012, he became the first death row inmate to successfully use North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act to lower his sentence to life without parole. His death sentence was then reinstated after the law was nullified.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday written by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley reinstates Robinson’s life without parole sentence and argues he cannot face the death penalty again because he had already won his appeal under the Racial Justice Act.

“The question is whether we will hold onto a punishment that is unfair and discriminatory,” Stubbs said. “When you look at Marcus’s life, there’s no question he was not the worst of the worst and did not deserve the death penalty.”

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

Officials: Inmate stabs two officers in North Carolina prison

Former NFL player sentenced to prison on drug charge

News

Currituck Board of Ed looks at reopening schools

Business

Manteo Marine recognized by Grady-White Boats for sales and service excellence

Business

Christina Burns named Outer Banks Hospital Employee of the Month for September

News

Duck begins search for new town manager

Lifestyles

Milltail Road reopens on Alligator River Refuge

Business

John Harris of Kitty Hawk Kites honored for contributions to tourism in North Carolina

News

Moratorium on offshore drilling reportedly coming for North Carolina

Lifestyles

Film production resumes in North Carolina

News

Trump taps Barrett for Supreme Court

Lifestyles

Recognized for 20 years of service at Town of Manteo

Hyde

COVID-19 testing event set in Fairfield

Crime

Victim in Camden County shooting in coma

News

Lost woman found at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Buxton

News

Additional COVID-19 related deaths reported in Currituck and Tyrrell

Currituck

Moyock development vote fails to get approval from Currituck Board of Commissioners

News

State graduation rate continues to climb, local administrators weigh in

News

Feds want to relax protections for woodpecker endangered since 1970

News

Three North Carolina death row inmates to serve life in prison

News

GOP elections board members in NC resign over absentee deal

News

Capital projects for Dare County water system approved

News

Dare occupancy collections set a record for July

News

Manteo annexes vacant lot

News

Belted kingfishers prefer to be near water

Lifestyles

Jennette’s Pier staff members pick peers for excellence awards