FAYETTEVILLE -- Closing arguments are underway Thursday in a Racial Justice Act hearing in Fayetteville. Convicted killers Tilmon Golphin, Quintel Augustine and Christina Walters say race played a role in their sentencing and are attempting to have their death sentences commuted to life in prison without parole.
In closing arguments Thursday morning, the defense told the court that the state of North Carolina has yet to acknowledge the fact that race was a significant factor in jury selection in these three cases, as well as several others. Defense attorneys told the court the state struck twice as many black jurors as white in all of these trials. They also say that in the Quintel Augustine trial in particular, there was not one black juror on the jury. All black potential jury members were struck in selection.
The state has told the court that race was not a factor in any of these three cases. Prosecutors told the court that defense attorneys have used statistics to be the backbone of their case. With the new, altered Racial Justice Act, they cannot rely on statistics alone. Prosecutors say the defense has called witnesses to the stand who have only read through transcripts and paperwork, but have never interacted with any prosecutors or judges in these cases to back their claims.
Family members of the victims are also expected to testify Thursday.
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