Bill Could Allow Death Row to Appeal Sentences Based on Race | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth ~~Under House Bill 2458, convicted murderers could challenge their sentences by proving that race played a significant role in the decision to seek or impose the death penalty. While statistical evidence of a district attorney's record on seeking the death penalty could be offered, other evidence particular to the case would be required. To qualify for a hearing, defendants would have to accept an alternate sentence of life without parole. Kentucky and North Carolina have enacted similar laws.
Of the 304 inmates on death row in Texas last year, according to the most recent count by the Death Penalty Information Center, 122 were black, 89 were white and 89 were Latino.
"We know," said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, "that blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented in Texas on death row."
Thompson cited the case of Duane Buck, a black man sentenced to death in 1997 for the murder of his former girlfriend and another man. At Buck's trial, a state psychologist listed race as one of several factors in describing the danger he would continue to pose. Though the psychologist was called to the stand by defense lawyers, a prosecutor emphasized the testimony in her closing argument. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/politics/Bill-Could-Allow-Death-Row-to-Appeal-Sentences-Based-on-Race-203370661.html