October 11, 2005

US court denies appeal by Calif. death row inmate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court declined on
Tuesday to review the case of a California death-row inmate
whose attorneys argued that the prosecutor had engaged in
racial discrimination in selecting the jury for his trial.

Without comment or recorded dissent, the justices denied
the appeal of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the black founder of
the Crips gang in Los Angeles who was convicted on four counts
of robbery-murder arising from two separate incidents in 1979.

An all-white jury convicted Williams in 1981 and imposed
the death penalty. In one incident, Williams was convicted of
killing a white convenience store clerk while in the other one
he was convicted of killing three Asian-American members of a
family that owned a hotel in Los Angeles.

Attorneys for Williams argued that the prosecutor
deliberately removed all potential jurors who were black. But a
U.S. appeals court in California has rejected his appeal, and
he asked the Supreme Court to review his case in a request
supported by civil rights and other groups.

While in prison, Williams has renounced his gang past and
has written a series of books urging youth not to get involved
with gangs. He has always maintained that he is innocent.