Cory Maye Off Death Row

Cory Maye, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for killing a police officer who he thought was a burglar during a botched drug raid, is no longer on death row, thanks in large part to the constant agitations of Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko.

I’ll let him tell the story of what happened at Friday’s hearing, where the judge ruled on the competence of his former attorney, Rhonda Cooper:

At the conclusion of the hearing today, Judge Michael Eubanks ruled on two of the defense team’s battery of arguments. Both rulings from the bench tonight dealt with Rhonda Cooper’s competence. Judge Eubanks found that Ms. Cooper was competent for the trial, but incompetent for the sentencing.

I have my quarrels with that ruling, obviously. But in the short run, it means that Cory will at the very least get a new sentencing trial. And until and if that happens, he will no longer be on death row — and for the moment is no longer condemned to die.

Judge Eubanks did not issue a ruling on any of the other defense arguments — and there were lots of them. It may be a month or more before we hear what he has decided. That said, I am cautiously optimistic. Empahsis on the “cautiously.” I’ll get into the “why” on that — once again — a bit later. There is also some reason to think that today’s ruling may very well permanently spare Cory’s life. I’ll get into that later, too.

It’s been an amazing couple of days. I felt at times as if I were watching a movie.

Balko also pointed at news coverage from the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger, and took a few shots at the confidential police informant, Randy Gentry:

If it was well known around town that Mr. Gentry is a raving racist who “hates niggers,” why did the police continue to use him as an informant in cases against black people? How many times has Mr. Gentry been described in a search warrant affidavit as “credible and reliable” when it’s now quite clear that not only should police have known that that’s not the case, but even the man’s own brother doesn’t consider him to be either? How many black people are in jail based in whole or in part on the word of Randy Gentry? How many more peope like Randy Gentry are serving as confidential informants — in Mississippi or anywhere else?

This is some very good news.

  1. Good luck getting racism out of Mississippi. I’m white as people come, but I still left because of that bullshit. I’m not racist, I don’t even much hate people ever. Now I live in Portland Oregon. A much better place…

    …but none the less still a racist place amazingly.

    I’m starting to think I can’t get away from it. :(

    But at the topic at hand, I wanna give the dude a bill and tell him good luck. I feel for the dude big time. I shot a home intruder, fortunately it was no cop… but I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. Someone breaking into a house (anyone can scream “police”) should be SHOT.

    The police really need to revamp and approach their tactics drastically. On another note the “drug war” that they are fighting needs the same drastic and severe revision.

  2. A nation gets the justice system it deserves, and unfortunately that means that this type of ruling is rarely overturned. It’s nice to see the courts get one right. It’d be really nice to see a strong LP candidate running to take the job of whatever gov. agent ran the prosecution on this one.