A 2011 murder trial will be overturned
CARBONDALE, Ill. - A 2011 murder trial is being scrapped and completely started anew after unsavory comments in the courtroom led to a question of racism.
You may remember Marcus Marshall was sentenced to 85 years in prison back in 2011 for the murder of LaQuinn Hudson, but that conviction may not stand.
That is because of statements made during closing arguments by Illinois State's Attorney Charles Garnati...statements some say had some racist undertones.
Marshall's attorney found the comments offensive and said the whole case needed to be overturned because they could have influenced the jury.
On Monday, a statement from Garnati was released filing a Confession of Error.
Mister Garnati described the black community by telling the court that some members of the black community consider law enforcement officials to be the enemy.
He went on to say, "...and I'm not saying the whole black community is like that, ladies and gentlemen. There are some very good law-abiding citizens in that community here in Marion."
By filing an Confession of Error, Garnati is not admitting these comments were racially charged, he is simply admitting they may have swayed jurors.
"A confession of error is basically an admission that there was error in the case, not necessarily that the prosecution did anything wrong, but that there is error in the case," said SIU law professor, Bill Schroeder.
Schroeder says jurors are easily influenced by emotion.
It is the goal of a court of law to present unbiased facts.
"If you argue facts, if you put information in front of the jury that wasn't information that they got from witnesses in court, that's a real problem," said Schroeder.
He says that while Garnati's comments were uncalled for, the real question is, why did the defense not object?
"He isn't like an umpire in a baseball game, the judge has to be summoned to act. You do that by making an objection. There was no objection, the judge let it go forward and the error really lies in letting it go forward," said Schroeder.
Professor Schroeder says Garnati's Confession of Error shows professionalism that should be commended.
In his statement on Monday, Garnati said in part: "the desire to convict in a criminal trial should always be tempered by the responsibility of the state to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial."
Marshall's 1st Degree murder conviction will be reversed, but his trial will begin again as soon as a new jury is selected.