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A California appeals court has overturned the convictions of three Black men over a 2012 double homicide.
NBC Bay Area reports the First Appellate District of California ruled on Friday to overturn the 2016 convictions of Sheldon Silas, 33, Reginald Whitley, 40, and Lamar Michaels, 34. They’re all serving life in prison without possibility of parole after being convicted of killing a Contra Costa County couple, Christopher Zinn, 24, and his girlfriend, Brieanna Dow, 21, in 2012.
At the time, the men were also given additional sentences ranging from 57 to 77 years in state prisons. Prosecutors believed the killings were gang-related because Zinn allegedly stole guns from the group.
According to the news outlet, the court ruled that the lead prosecutor in the murder trial, then-Deputy District Attorney Melissa Smith, dismissed a 25-year-old Black juror for reasons that “were plainly tied to race,” after the woman acknowledged her support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Presiding Justice Jim Humes wrote in the court’s decision, “There was evidence that the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office in general, and this prosecutor in particular, had in the past exercised peremptory challenges on the basis of race.”
Meanwhile, the District Attorney’s office claims it is considering the opinion of retrying the three men, saying it will “ensure justice in this case.”