Three Murder Convictions Overturned after Juror's BLM Links Emerge
Men convicted in 2016 for murdering Christopher Zinn and Brieanna Dow
The murder convictions of three men have been overturned in California after a juror's links to Black Lives Matter emerged.
The 2016 convictions were overturned because a juror who had ties to BLM had been dismissed from the case by the district attorney.
The three men were convicted of the 2012 murders of a young couple.
However, an appellate court found that the district attorney in the case had asked "inappropriate" questions of a 25-year-old black juror.
The woman, Crishala Reed, was specifically asked questions related to her support for the violent left-wing Black Lives Matter organization before being dismissed from the case.
In a unanimous decision Friday, the First Appellate District of California ruled that the district attorney had acted in a "discriminatory" manner.
"Given the prosecutor's inappropriate questioning about Black Lives Matter, the absence of any clear and legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for striking Juror 275, and the evidence of at least some historical discrimination by the prosecutor and other district attorneys in her office, the court's finding that defendants failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination lacked substantial evidence," said Justice Jim Humes in the 70-page decision.
Humes later said in the decision that other accusations of racism against the district attorney's office had moved the court's opinion.
"Moreover, there was evidence that the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office in general, and this prosecutor in particular, had in the past exercised peremptory challenges on the basis of race," he wrote.
The three men, who are all black, were convicted of shooting and murdering Christopher Zinn, 24, and his girlfriend, Brieanna Dow, 21.
Their bodies were found in Antioch in October 2012.
Prosecutors said that the shooting was gang-related and was in retaliation for Zinn allegedly stealing guns from the group.
The three men had been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and were given additional sentences ranging from 57 to 77 years in state prison, according to the East Bay Times.
A spokesman for the district attorney's office responded to the ruling in an email to the East Bay Times.
"Our office is reviewing the opinion of the court," read the statement.
"At this juncture, we intend to retry the defendants and ensure justice in this case."
An attorney for one of the defendants praised the ruling.
"The opinion speaks for itself," said Paul Feuerwerker.
"The Court of Appeal was clearly disturbed by some of the questioning by the prosecutor and the trial court's handling of it."