NASHVILLE (TNN) -- On Tuesday, a judge sentenced a Tennessee death row prisoner to life imprisonment for the second consecutive year. This was after finding that the trial of the man was marred by racism at jury selection.
After finding that his Constitutional right of fair trial was violated, Judge Monte Watkins vacated Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman's conviction (ahh-BOO''-ahh-LEE'). According to court order, Abdur'Rahman was sentenced to three life sentences for pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery.
Abdur'Rahman, if the resentencing decision is not challenged will spend the rest his life in prison without any threat of execution.
Abdur'Rahman's sentencing could be appealed by the state Attorney General's Office. This was what happened in 2019 when Watkins overturned Abdur'Rahman's execution sentence. After Abdur'Rahman, a Black man, asked to reopen his case and presented evidence that the prosecutors treated Black potential jurors differently than white potential jurors.
In return for Abdur'Rahman's agreement to drop future appeals, his attorneys signed an agreement to reduce his sentence with District Attorney Glenn Funk. Shawanna and Katrina Norman expressed relief that their legal muddles were over.
The state Attorney General's Office appealed. They argued that Watkins did not have the authority to modify Abdur'Rahman's sentence because it was based on an agreement with him. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed that Watkins could reveiw his petition but required him to follow the procedures set out in the appeals court decision. This order set the scene for Tuesday's retake.
In an email, a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office stated that they are currently reviewing Watkins' Order and "considering next steps."