Supreme Court won't hear Houston County murder case but justice critical of jury selection

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Washinton, D.C. (WTVY)- The U.S. Supreme Court won't take up a death penalty case from Houston County in which attorneys said potential African-American jurors were improperly excluded from jury service.

The justices refused to hear the case of Christopher Floyd whose attorneys claim then Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska marked potential African-American jurors’ names on the jury list with a "B" to indicate their race and could not give a reason for excluding at least one of the African-Americans he'd objected to from the jury. Floyd is white.

He was convicted for the 1992 murder of Waylon Crawford, a Houston County grocery store owner. Crawford had been shot twice and a few hundred dollars stolen from the business. Floyd was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to death.

While agreeing with the decision not to hear the case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor raised “serious concerns” about the way the jury was selected but said claims raised by Floyd’s attorneys made the case unsuitable for review.

This is not the first time that Valeska has come under scrutiny for his courtroom actions. The Equal Justice Initiative accused the former prosecutor of systematically disqualifying blacks from jury service and the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals was recently critical of Valeska in the capital murder trial of Artez Hammonds, convicted of shooting a Dothan nurse to death in 1996.

Floyd is on Alabama’s Death Row awaiting an execution date.



 
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