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Archive for Monday, August 15, 2005

Texas plans retrial in murder case

Supreme Court overturned conviction citing discriminatory manual

August 15, 2005

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— The U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the murder conviction of a black man accused of killing a white hotel clerk during a robbery cited a manual that instructed prosecutors on how to exclude minorities from Texas juries.

But the county prosecutor says that ruling didn't call into question the guilt of the inmate, Thomas Miller-El, and the state plans to seek the death penalty again in a new trial.

"His guilt of this heinous crime is not in question," Dallas Dist. Atty. Bill Hill said. Prosecutors have until late November to set a new trial date or Miller-El could be released.

Miller-El's attorney, Jim Marcus, said his client retains the presumption of innocence "until proven guilty in a constitutionally fair trial."

The Supreme Court overturned Miller-El's conviction in June, citing a manual written in 1969 that instructed prosecutors on how to exclude minority jurors. In Miller-El's case, the racial discrimination in the jury selection process was unquestionable, Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter wrote in the 6-3 decision.

The 12-member jury that sentenced Miller-El to death row in 1986 included one black. Prosecutors had struck 10 of the 11 blacks eligible to serve.

Miller-El was charged with murder after a co-worker of slain Holiday Inn clerk Douglas Walker who survived the shooting identified Miller-El as the triggerman.

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