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Over 3 Dissents, High Court OK's Death Sentence In 'Angola 5' Case

The Supreme Court let stand the conviction of a Louisiana inmate who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for his role in an attempted prison escape involving five other inmates known as the Angola 5. The justices declined on Monday to take up the appeal filed by the inmate, David Brown, CNN reports. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, joined by Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented from the court’s 6-3 decision not to hear the case. Louisiana asked the court to reject Brown’s position, emphasizing the grisly nature of the murder of Captain David Knapps, who was bludgeoned to death in a restroom of the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Brown had argued that he was part of the escape – but not the murder – and said the state suppressed evidence that would have helped him. Lawyers for Brown said a co-defendant confessed that he and another inmate committed the murder.

Brown asked the high court to take up the case to examine whether the state violated Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 Supreme Court decision that established that the prosecution must turn over all evidence that could exonerate a defendant. “We have repeatedly reversed lower courts – and Louisiana courts, in particular – for similar refusals to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment’s mandate that favorable and material evidence in the government’s possession be disclosed to the defense before trial,” Jackson wrote. In the case at hand, the Louisiana Supreme Court said that the failure to disclose the confession did not violate Brady because the other inmate who confessed never said that Brown was not present.

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