By Jenny Jarvie
When Glenn Davis was 19, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — even though the jury deciding his fate did not agree on his guilt.
Because of a Jim Crow-era statute, a person in Louisiana could be convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison, including life without parole, on a 10-2 or 11-1 verdict.
“My life was in the hands of a treacherous system that would convict me, even though two of the jurors said, ‘Not guilty,’” Davis, now 45, said in a recent interview. “How can you say a person has been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt if one juror says, ‘Hold up. Wait! Something’s not right about this’?”
Across the United States, federal courts and 48 states require juries to be unanimous in felony verdicts. Louisiana is the only state to allow nonunanimous verdicts in murder trials. Only one other state, Oregon, allows split-jury verdicts in felony cases.
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