8 Years After Proving Racism Affected His Death Sentence, North Carolina Inmate Re-Sentenced To Life

Published by TIME.COM

On Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court reinstated the life sentence of Marcus Robinson, a 47-year-old Black man who proved before a judge in 2012 that racism had affected trial proceedings that resulted in his death sentence.

Robinson had been re-sentenced to life without parole under North Carolina's Racial Justice Act but was later moved back onto death row after a series of legislative and legal proceedings.

Robinson was then moved back to death row without a new trial.

"Almost exactly 11 years after the passage of the Racial Justice Act, the court's decision to reverse Marcus Robinson's death sentence is a critical step toward achieving the goal of that legislation: to break the link between racism and the death penalty in North Carolina," Cassandra Stubbs, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Capital Punishment Project, said in a statement.

Three other death row inmates-Tilmon Golphin, Christina Walters and Quintel Augustine-had also been re-sentenced to life under the RJA in 2012 but were then sent back to death row after a judge threw out their case in 2017.

Over 100 death row inmates had filed RJA claims before the law was repealed, but only Robinson, Golphin, Walters and Augustine had been granted hearings and successfully had their their death sentences overturned.

In June, the state Supreme Court issued a sweeping ruling that the RJA's repeal cannot be applied retroactively, meaning that everyone who filed a RJA claim before the Act was repealed - meaning over 100 death row inmates - has a right to a hearing to prove racism affected their sentences.