A Macomb County Circuit Court judge last week overturned a first-degree murder conviction for a Black man after it was revealed that a juror used the n-word during deliberation.
Terry Wilson, 26, will now stand trial a second time over a shooting that resulted from an alleged 2013 altercation in Clinton Township.
Wilson claimed he shot another man in self-defense, while the Macomb County Prosecutor contended it was pre-meditated first-degree murder. The jury agreed and convicted Wilson.
However, Wilson and his defense attorney, Wade Fink, learned last year that one of the jurors said Wilson was “just another nigger off the street,” among other racist comments.
Fink said in a release that several other jurors confirmed the juror's comments, and the Circuit Court judge agreed that Wilson was denied a fair and impartial trial.
The juror, Harvey Labadie, denied that he used the word or holds any racial biases in an interview with WXYZ
“I didn’t say racist comments. I have never said racist comments in my life. I am a Democrat,” he told WXYZ. "He must have had a good lawyer."
Though jury deliberations are typically kept secret to allow jurors to speak freely, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that a case can be overturned if a juror makes racist comments. In other words, people can't be convicted because of race.
“While this is a huge victory for the criminal justice system as a whole, it is also a reminder that pernicious racial bias still very much exists," Fink said in a statement. "We must remain extremely hypervigilant, because racism is not always as overt as it was here."
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