It seems pretty clear that an African American isn’t going to get a fair trial from a juror who calls him a “nigger.” And yet that’s what happened in the case of Keith Tharpe, who Georgia will execute on September 26 for the murder of his sister-in-law, unless the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
The fate of Keith Tharpe was entrusted into the hands of a juror who was unconvinced he, as a black person, had a soul. This seems to fall short of the “impartial jury” guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.
In 1998, lawyers seeking to appeal Tharpe’s 1991 conviction interviewed a juror in Tharpe’s case named Barney Gattie. In their discussion, which the attorneys documented in an affidavit that he confirmed and initialed (though later contested), Gattie claimed there is a difference between “good black folks” like the victim’s family and “niggers,” and says that he voted for the death penalty because he considered Tharpe the latter. He talked about kicking “niggers” who “act up” out of the store he owned in the same small town where the crime happened. He randomly chimed in on the O.J. Simpson case, contending that the “white woman… wouldn’t have been killed if she hadn’t have married that black man.” He said he “wondered if black people even have souls.” …
Help stop the execution of Keith Tharpe! Appeals for Mr. Tharpe’s life should be sent via mail, email, fax or called into the Georgia Board of Pardons before the scheduled execution date of September 26, 2017. Direct appeals to:
State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334-4909
Fax: (404) 651-6670
Telephone: (404) 656-4661