SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The California Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of a convicted double-murderer because the prosecutor focused on the defendant’s racist beliefs during closing arguments in the trial’s penalty phase.
The Los Angeles Times reports the court’s decision Thursday was unanimous.
Justice Leondra R. Kruger wrote that the San Diego County prosecutor made inflammatory arguments about Jeffrey Scott Young’s racist tattoos and white supremacist beliefs to highlight their offensiveness rather than for a purpose connected to the crime.
The killings occurred during a 1999 robbery of a parking lot near San Diego International Airport.
Young was convicted of killing two employees, an attempted murder and a carjacking.
Young must now be given a penalty phase retrial or his sentenced will be reduced to life in prison without possibility of parole.