The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the case of a Georgia inmate who says a juror voted to put him to death because of his race.
Keith Tharpe has been sitting on death row for a murder he committed almost 29 years ago. In 1990, Tharpe fatally shot his sister-in-law and kidnapped his estranged wife in Jones County.
In an interview seven years after Tharpe’s sentencing, a juror questioned if “black people even have souls.”
Tharpe’s attorneys were trying to halt his scheduled execution because of that comment.
The lower court initially said his legal team had a compelling argument but later warned that other jurors may disagree that race impacted the vote.
The Supreme Court also ultimately decided not to take up the case. Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed with the decision but wrote in a separate statement that racial bias is still a “familiar and recurring evil.”
The State of Georgia can now proceed with his execution.