Given the defense's theory of the case, a verdict of involuntary manslaughter might provide a conflicted jury an opportunity to arrive at a compromise, "split-the-difference" decision. Involuntary manslaughter is the trial's real battleground.
Last week, North Carolina state Judge Gregory Weeks issued a sweeping ruling setting aside the death sentences of three North Carolina prisoners because of a wealth of evidence proving the prosecutors' racial bias in jury selection.
In a remarkable victory over racial bias in the death penalty, Marcus Robinson will not be executed by the State of North Carolina but will instead spend the rest of his life in prison after a judge ruled today that his death sentence was tainted by racial discrimination in jury selection.
The legal question -- when, if ever, can race discrimination in jury selection be tolerated -- was easy. The factual question -- when will prosecutors cease to discriminate on the basis of race? -- has proven to be far more difficult to answer.