A North Carolina judge on Friday commuted the death sentence of a black man convicted of the 1991 murder of a white teenage boy after finding that state prosecutors had deliberately excluded blacks from the jury.
In the first test of North Carolina's controversial Racial Justice Act, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks said he found intentional and systematic discrimination by prosecutors over two decades against black jurors in death penalty cases.
Weeks cited abundant evidence of "the persistent, distorting role of race in jury selection in North Carolina."
Robinson is among 150 Death Row inmates in North Carolina challenging their sentences under a 2009 law allowing the use of statistical analysis to show a pattern of racial bias in jury selection and sentencing.
The Racial Justice Act allows Death Row inmates to have their sentences reduced to life without parole if a judge determines that racial discrimination played a significant role in their sentencing.