Race, rape, a killer and the Delta | Arkansas Blog

Race, rape, a killer and the Delta

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CURTIS VANCE: Jury sympathy vote?
John Brummett talks today with Bill Lewellen, a lawyer and former state senator, about a question David Koon explored for us at some length after a Marianna jury ignored bullet-proof DNA evidence and refused to convict Anne Pressly's killer, Curtis Vance, of raping a white Marianna school teacher. The hung jury broke on racial lines — blacks for acquittal, whites for conviction.

Lewellen, who is black, thinks justice is done by Delta juries without regard to race of victim or defendant. He offered his own theory on why Vance wasn't convicted.

He said his best guess as to what happened in the Vance case, based on conversations he’s had with people in town, is that everyone knew Vance was going to spend the rest of his life in jail for the Pressly murder.

Lewellen said he wasn’t criticizing the prosecutor or the accuser for insisting on a trial. But in this case, he speculated, plain DNA evidence may not have mattered as much as that jurors — the African-American ones, most likely — didn’t see any justice, evidence notwithstanding, in reaching into a doomed man’s after-life to try to punish him in his grave.

Gee, I wish Lewellen had condemned the idea that a rapist — black or white — deserves a pass because he'd already been convicted in another rape and murder.

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