The United Stats Supreme Court has declined a review of death row prisoner Andre Thomas who was sentenced to death by a racially biased jury. This case is an alarming example of the failure of the court to provide an impartial jury and the consequences of bias in the courtroom. Keep reading to learn more.
Andre Thomas was convicted of killing his estranged wife and their biracial child, and another child from his wife’s previous relationship. The murders took place in 2004 in Sherman, Texas and involved brutal wounds to all three victims.
Thomas, who has a history of mental health struggles developed auditory hallucinations in early childhood which would develop into suicidal thoughts and recreational drug use and self-mutilation as an adult. He met his wife as a young teenager, and they married when Thomas turned eighteen. However, they broke up a few short months after.
The court rejected his insanity plea despite his schizophrenia diagnosis and sentenced him to death for capital murder.
Like many individuals in the criminal justice system, Thomas was plagued by mental illness and a troubled childhood. He was exposed to abuse and neglect as a child and grew up in extreme poverty. Many of his family members struggled with substance abuse and there was a murder between family members before Thomas was born.
As a seemingly vibrant child, Thomas attended Sunday school and did well in his studies. However, by age 10, Thomas developed behavioral issues and auditory hallucinations which would worsen over time. He also began using marijuana and was arrested and put on probation for possession by age 12.
During his early teens, Thomas made two attempts at suicide and was arrested repeatedly for theft and other offenses. However, despite the clear signs of mental illness, he did not receive mental health support after his release from juvenile detention.
Thomas dated and married Laura Boren at the age of eighteen. He dropped out of school and attained an equivalency diploma and worked to support himself, his young wife, and their child. However, the couple was separated and seemingly broke up due to this separation.
Thomas had more intense suicidal ideation and had difficulty keeping a job. His estranged wife reduced visitation with their sun and Thomas began to experiment with cold medication after which a friend took Thomas to a mental health facility where he was put under an emergency detention order.
His psychosis would continue to escalate until the triple murders in 2004.
Because his wife, a white woman, was a victim in the case, the court asked jurors whether they had any biases against interracial relationships. Those who objected to interracial relationships were not allowed to serve. However, this turned out to not be the case.
To learn more about the Thomas case, join us next time for part two.