On Tuesday night, September 26th, the United States Supreme Court stopped the execution of Keith Tharpe, a 59-year-old black man, who was sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of his sister-in-law, Jackie Freeman.
Tharpe was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7:00 pm at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson, Georgia. In a last minute effort to halt the execution, Tharpe’s attorney argued that his client’s sentence was impaired by a juror with racial bias. The lawyer presented an affidavit of a juror, given a few years after the trial concluded, where the juror stated that after “studying the Bible” he wondered to himself if “black people even [had] souls.”
This statement was used in the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, if Tharpe is executed, he will be the second person in Georgia to be put to death and the 19th person in the United States this year.