Texas to execute man who admits murders but says trial was tainted
Une salle d'éxécution au pénitencier de Hunstville, au Texas (Etats-Unis), le 29 février 2000

Washington (AFP) - Texas plans to execute on Wednesday a man sentenced to death for a triple murder after a trial that his lawyers say was tainted by racial bias.

John Balentine, a 54-year- old African American, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection, nearly 25 years after he shot three white teenagers as they slept.

One of them, according to court documents, was the brother of his former girlfriend, who disapproved of their interracial relationship and threatened to kill Balentine.

Balentine never denied the crime, but his lawyer Shawn Nolan argues that he was given the death penalty because of racial bias at his trial.

In an appeal to the US Supreme Court, Nolan says the prosecutor dismissed Black jurors. Nolan also accused Balentine's attorneys at the time of showing "racist animus" toward their client.

"Can you spell 'justifiable lynching?'" one of the attorneys wrote in a scribbled note, referring to the vigilante killings in the segregated South to traumatize the Black population.

In addition, Nolan added, one of the jurors, a former military officer who was hostile to African Americans, had intimidated the others to convince them to impose the death penalty.

"I am pretty stubborn and pretty aggressive," that man, Dory England, admitted in writing in 2021.

During the deliberations, "I made it clear that we were chosen to take care of this problem, and that the death penalty was the only answer," he admitted in a document attached to the proceedings.

Nolan filed England's testimony and other new elements in Texas courts on January 30 to request a reopening of the case.

The state courts refused his request, prompting him to file an eleventh-hour appeal to the US Supreme Court.

If the high court refuses to intervene, Balentine will be the sixth person on death row to be executed in the United States this year.