Wash. high court reverses murder conviction
Thursday, June 9, 2011
SEATTLE (AP) -- The Washington state Supreme Court has overturned a man's murder conviction and blasted what one justice called the prosecutor's "repugnant" racial comments during his trial.
Kevin L. Monday Jr., a black man, was convicted in a 2006 shooting in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood after a street musician's video camera captured him firing the fatal shots.
During the trial, longtime deputy King County prosecutor James Konat, who is white, repeatedly questioned recalcitrant witnesses by making references to the "po-leese" and to a supposed "code" of silence that kept witnesses from cooperating with officers. Konat told the jury, "The code is, black folk don't testify against black folk."
Justice Tom Chambers wrote for the majority Thursday that for a prosecutor to appeal to racial biases in such a way is "fundamentally opposed to our founding principles." Chief Justice Barbara Madsen called the comments "repugnant."
Konat's boss, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said he agrees the comments were inappropriate.