A Macomb County, Michigan, man has had his murder conviction overturned after a judge discovered one member of the all-white jury made racist remarks.
Prosecutors said 26-year-old Terry Lamont Wilson shot and killed 24-year-old William Clark in 2013. A first-degree murder verdict was handed down in the case. Wilson said at the time that he shot his friend at Prince Drewry Park during a Cinco De Mayo celebration out of fear. He was kept from claiming self-defense during the trial.
However, on Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Faunce reversed the conviction, The Macomb Daily reported.
“Today my Firm reversed this man’s conviction based on the racist comments made by one of the jurors who convicted him,” tweeted Wilson’s Detroit-based criminal defense attorney Wade Fink on August 6. “Huge victory for our criminal justice system but also another reminder that pernicious racial bias continues to exist.”
Because of the ruling, Wilson will now get a new trial following his 2014 conviction, where he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Faunce explained she reversed the ruling because white juror “made racist statements while he was deliberating guilt or innocence.”
The judge conducted a hearing on the matter in August 2018 after Wilson’s attorney raised the issue in a relief-from-judgment motion in February of that same year. Of the 11 jurors, three of them attested the man, who has since been identified as Harvey Labadie, made one or two racial remarks as deliberations occurred. Another juror said he could only state a male juror said something racial.
Since the ruling, the juror in question has spoken out.
This week, ABC 7 Detroit spoke to Labadie at his home to ask him directly about what he allegedly said. He told her it happened years ago and was unaware that the conviction had been thrown out.
“I didn’t say racist comments,” Labadie said after inquiring as to what ground the conviction was overturned. “I have never said racist comments in my life. I am a Democrat.”
In the court documents obtained by ABC 7, Labadie is accused of saying Wilson “was guilty because he was black,” “probably ghetto” and “that is just the way they all are.” The Macomb Daily reported a female juror recalled Labadie said Wilson “was just another n—– off the street.” A male juror said given a second-degree conviction, “at least we’ll have one less black guy off the streets.”
Wilson will remain incarcerated until the new trial, a date of which has yet to be announced. His mother, Lashanda Kelley, said racism has made it hard for the family of the man who was killed.
“I do always keep them in heart and mind,” she said.
Still, Kelley, who had custom shirts made in support of her son, said the reversed conviction “is just the sign of a new day, and thank God it is here.”