Bill on racial testimony in capital cases heard

Murderers would have to accept life without parole to qualify for hearing

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Texas lawmakers are considering legislation to help death row inmates challenge sentences based on testimony argued to be racist.

Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston said her House Bill 2458 would allow convicted murderers to appeal their sentences by proving racial prejudice factored significantly in their sentencing. They would have to accept a sentence of life without parole to qualify for a hearing.

Death penalty opponents rallied around the bill in the name of a black inmate named Duane Buck, who has drawn national attention to his campaign to win a new hearing. A witness in his case testified that race was a factor in his "future dangerousness."

However, several members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee called the legislation unnecessary.


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