NC Supreme Court hears death penalty arguments

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Associated Press

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 3:35 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 15 at 3:35 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's highest court will rule whether a judge decided correctly when he ordered four convicted murderers moved from death row, saying racism was partially responsible for their sentences.

Justices held two hearings Monday on the Racial Justice Act — one involving Marcus Robinson and the 2009 version of the law and one involving three other convicted murderers and the version amended in 2012.

Special Deputy Attorney General Danielle Elder told the justices that the decision in Robinson's case means defendants could avoid the death penalty even if they don't prove they experienced racism.

Attorney Donald Beskind said the defense did prove discrimination in Robinson's case. He said the prosecution was asking the court to engage in judicial activism and rewrite the law.

Legislators repealed the law in 2013.

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