Sept. 26 (UPI) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday reduced three death row inmates’ sentences to life in prison after they appealed under a now-defunct law that protected against racial bias.
The ruling provided relief for Quintel Augustine, Tilmon Golphin and Christina Walters.
They each sought a new sentence under the Racial Justice Act, which was passed in 2009 but repealed by Republicans in 2013. The law allows death row inmates to appeal their sentences if there’s evidence of racial bias.
The state Supreme Court this summer ruled that even though the law was repealed in 2013, it could still be applied retroactively to cases tried before the repeal.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the three defendants, hailed the high court’s decision.
“Today’s decision affirms that the state won’t sweep evidence of the racism people experienced in their capital cases under the rug. It’s an important move towards rectifying the harm that has been caused,” the organization said.
Augustine was convicted of killing a Fayetteville, N.C., police officer in 2001; Golphin of killing a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper and a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy in 1997; and Walters of two gang-related killings.