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Death Sentence Tainted By Juror’s Consultation With Her Pastor

Sept. 12, 2019, 2:41 PM

A North Carolina man’s death sentence was improperly influenced by a juror’s consultation with her pastor over whether such a sentence would run afoul of her religious beliefs, the Fourth Circuit said Sept. 12.

William Leroy Barnes was convicted of first-degree murder in state court. During closing arguments during the sentencing phase, an attorney representing one of Barnes’s co-defendants said that the law of God superseded humanity’s laws, and intimated that the jurors would face divine judgment for breaking the Sixth Commandment’s charge not to kill if they were to vote in favor of the death penalty. The prosecution didn’t ...