De’Marquise Elkins murder trial: Defense files to dismiss jury because of no black males

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Defense attorneys in the De’Marquise Elkins baby stroller murder case have filed two separate motions — one on the evening of Monday, Aug. 19 and again in the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 — to dismiss the jury pool based on the fact that there were no African American males within the prospective pool of 48 people.

There were four black females in the original jury pool of 48 that were brought into the Cobb County Superior Courthouse in suburban Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 19. After the media and jury were sent home for the evening, Gough filed his first motion to dismiss the jury and re-pick another set of prospective jurors because of the extremely low number of African Americans overall in the jury pool.

From a percentage standpoint, the low racial percentage defies logic in the eyes of defense attorney Kevin Gough, which suggests that the supposed random selection of prospective jurors by jury administrator of Cobb County Deborah Matthews was not so random after all.

Gough brought in a mathematician, a veteran court expert and statistician Jeffrey Martin of Atlanta, to present evidence that suggest that an unlikely low number of African Americans were pooled from the list of 117 people called in to perform jury duty in Cobb County, and the 48 that ended up on the De’Marquise Elkins murder trial.

According to Martin, this is the population and racial/ethnic breakdown of Cobb County, a suburban area that straddles the northwestern edge of Atlanta.

  • Population of Cobb County, according to the 2010 Census: 511,591, aged 18 and over.
  • Whites make up 65.19 percent of Cobb County residents.
  • African Americans make up 23.75 percent.
  • Other races are: 11.23 percent
  • Hispanics/Latinos: 10.3 percent
  • Males: 47 percent
  • Females: 52 percent

Based on those numbers, Gough before the court that it could not be possible that such a low number of African Americans — including not a single black male — would be randomly selected to serve in this trial.

“We got a significantly low number of African Americans in this jury pool,” testified the statistician Martin. “This tells us something systematic going on, other than a” random draw.

The odds are 200 to 1 against such a lopsided racial makeup of the jury could possibly happen, Martin said. “Only 5 percent of the time would we expect to get that low a number of African Americans on this jury pool in Cobb County. Normally you would get closer to the 12 to 13 (of blacks) percent of this jury pool,” Martin continued.

Gough said the racial makeup of the jury is critical to whether he believes his client, De’Marquise Elkins, can receive a fair trial. Television legal experts often say that most trials are won or lost during jury selection.

“You can’t expect a young black man charged with murdering a white child — anywhere in America — and not feel threatened about the violation of his Constitutional rights,” Gough said. “The numbers don’t lie, judge. The numbers don’t lie.”

When prosecutors objected to erasing this jury pool, the defense said: “I don’t know why the state (the prosecutors) are fighting so hard to keep this jury when there are so few African Americans on it,” added the attorney for Karima Elkins, De’Marquise’s mother who is a defendant in this trial. “I really don’t know where they are coming from.”

Gough is asking judge Stephen D. Kelley to erase the jury pool that was selected and begin anew. The judge has yet to rule on the matter.

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