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Protecting cop killers: another Racial Justice Act outrage 

Accused cop-killer Demetrius Montgomery says that the state can't execute him because he's black and the two cops he shot are white.

Yes, you read that correctly. And you can thank Democratic state legislators and Gov. Beverly Perdue for it.

Those who kill white cops will likely no longer be eligible for the ultimate punishment in North Carolina. It's the result of one of the most outrageous laws ever put on the books here, and it could keep a cop killer who shot his victims execution-style off of death row because they were white and he is black.

Mecklenburg County has a long history of sending cop killers to death row. But when Perdue signed the Racial Justice Act, she effectively put an end to that. Now it seems we can only send white people who kill black cops to death row.

That's because the new law goes far beyond barring racial discrimination in death penalty cases, proof of which was already enough to challenge a death sentence. It sets up a bizarre reverse affirmative action system for the death penalty based not on actual discrimination, but on theoretical discrimination.

All a convicted killer now has to do is to make a mathematically sound statistical argument that the death penalty has been handed out more frequently to people of his race in his county, prosecutorial district or the state in the past. Or he could argue that those who murder victims of a certain race are more likely to get the death penalty.

He wouldn't have to prove there was actually any discrimination in his own case. And it wouldn't matter if he was stone-cold guilty. He couldn't get the death penalty. North Carolina's most vicious murderers are now using the law across the state to postpone their death penalty trials and to demand that they be spared a death sentence.

Proponents of the law point to three recent cases of exonerations after wrongful convictions. Unfortunately, this law wouldn't do a thing to stop that, since it doesn't take the facts of the case -- or lack thereof -- into account, but merely focuses on racial statistics. In one of the three cases, both the real defendant and the convicted one were white. In another, both were black. In both those cases, though, the victim was white.

So had the racial justice law been applied, all that would have changed was a lesser sentence for the wrong killer because the victim was white. It just makes no sense.

The law is now essentially creating a bizarre tiered system of punishment in which white victims and their families get less justice for being white. Even white murderers are using it to argue that they're more likely to get the death penalty for killing a white person. And they, along with black killers, are successfully using it to postpone their capital murder trials.

Last week, a judge postponed Montgomery's murder trial until a statewide death penalty study is completed. It's almost certain to show racial bias, since the professors conducting it have long histories of opposition to the death penalty and have worked to end it in other states. If so, murderers will be able to use the taxpayer-funded study to get out of the death penalty -- even for killing cops.

In Montgomery's case, defense lawyers are contending that since 74 percent of those executed since 1910 were black, Montgomery can't be given the death penalty. They also claim that since nearly 80 percent executions were for murders of white people, it would be unfair to give Montgomery the death penalty.

Apparently, at the time of their deaths, officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton were committing the crime of policing while white.

Someone should answer for this. This bill passed along partisan lines with the Democratic majority in the legislature voting almost unanimously for it. They and Perdue should be held responsible.

So far, North Carolinians are none the wiser. Three weeks ago, Perdue spoke to a victims' group in Raleigh, babbling some nonsense about how she supports the death penalty and wants justice for the family of a recently murdered female Raleigh school board member who was a friend of hers. Problem is, the woman was white, so it's only a matter of time before her killer, who is also white, uses the Racial Justice Act to get out of the death penalty. I assume that's perfectly fine with Perdue, or she wouldn't have signed the bill, right?

And there is an even more terrifying possibility. Why should so-called "racial justice" only apply to death sentences? Are killers more likely to get life sentences if they kill white people? It's only a matter of time before some enterprising lawyer argues this should be applied to other crimes and other sentences.

This law adds $200,000 to the cost of a death penalty trial and keeps most murderers off death row. It would make more sense for Perdue and her Democratic colleagues to simply end the death penalty. But they know if they did that, voters in this state, who overwhelming support it, would end their political careers. So they're trying to do it on the down low, with disastrous results.

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