We’ve often celebrated when a Black man, or any person of color, has their conviction overturned after a discovery that proves they shouldn’t have been imprisoned in the first place.
However, a recent case in Portland may polarize many after an accused child murderer saw his conviction get overturned when it was revealed that prosecutors dismissed jury members based on simply being Black.
As FOX 12 Oregon reporter Marilyn Deutsch tweeted live from the courtroom back in 2018 (seen above), Darian L. McWoods was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the death of his 15-month-old daughter, Kamaya Flores. The toddler tragically died due to a methadone overdose, and a further autopsy revealed that she had signs of abusive injuries consistent with compression asphyxia in addition to “illicit drugs” in her system.
The three-year investigation resulted in McWoods being found guilty on two counts of murder by abuse, three counts of first-degree manslaughter and counts on criminally negligent homicide, criminal mistreatment plus tampering with a witness.
More details in this unsettling case and overturned conviction below, via AP News:
“The jury, which had no Black members, found Darian L. McWoods, a Black man, guilty of murder by abuse in the death of his 15-month-old daughter, Kamaya Flores, in Multnomah County Circuit Court, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
In the ruling released Wednesday, Presiding Judge Josephine Mooney found that Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Amanda Nadell offered race-neutral reasons to strike both prospective jurors, but those arguments were only a ‘pretext.’
Mooney wrote that the state did not seek to strike similarly situated jurors who were not Black.
‘Racial discrimination in the selection of jurors is harmful,’ Mooney wrote.”
Josephine Townsend, defense attorney for McWoods, cited the “Batson” rule to challenge the dismissals by referring to a Supreme Court decision from 1986 that prohibits excluding prospective jurors based on their race. The case will return to Circuit Court and either be retried or dismissed, that is unless the the Oregon Department of Justice appeals the overturned conviction with the state Supreme Court.
McWoods continues to stress that he’s innocent of what he’s being accused of, although prosecutors painted him as a drug user who’d often mix his narcotics with kid-friendly drinks like Capri Sun. This is how they say baby Kamaya got in contact with the methadone that killed her, although Townsend has suggested the drugs were left in a shared bedroom by another family member.
While racial discrimination in the judicial system on any level shouldn’t be tolerated, we hope a technicality doesn’t let yet another alleged criminal off the hook.
To Kamaya Flores, R.I.P baby girl.
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