UPCOMING EXECUTION: Lawyers Request Reprieve Because of Racial Bias in Dallas County

Lawyers for Kimberly McCarthy, who is to be executed on January 29, have petitioned Texas Governor Rick Perry for a 30-day reprieve because of evidence of racial bias in the county in which she was tried. The District Attorney for Dallas County, Craig Watkins, has already called for passage of a Racial Justice Act to address the bias he has found. Attorneys for McCarthy cited several studies pointing to racial disparity in the application of the death penalty: Dallas County is about 22% black, yet 42% of those executed or awaiting execution from the County are black. Ms. McCarthy is black and her victim was white, like 68% of the victims in the County's cases. Her attorneys wrote, “These statistics and their import are reflected in the case of Kimberly McCarthy, an African-American woman, who was sentenced to death for the murder of an elderly white woman." Evidence also exists of bias in jury selection, both historically and in her case: "Of the thirteen jurors seated [in McCarthy’s case], all were white except one.” Although the governor cannot grant clemency to McCarthy because the Pardons Board voted against her, he can issue a 30-day reprieve for further investigation. [UPDATE: State District Judge Larry Mitchell stayed McCarthy's execution.  Her execution was initially rescheduled for April 3, 2013 and she was executed on June26, 2013.]

(Attorneys for McCarthy, Letter to Governor Perry, January 28, 2013).  See Race.  Listen to DPIC's podcast on Race.