In 2004, Christopher Young was convicted of killing the owner of a mini-market in San Antonio TX. As a result, he was sentenced to be executed. Today he still awaits execution on Texas’ infamous death row. More than 500 leaders of various faiths are petitioning for him to be given a new trial. One leader is the retired bishop of the Diocese of West Texas, the Rt Revd Robert Hibbs. He joins leaders from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faiths in the petition.
Bishop Hibbs makes it clear that they requesting a new trial on one specific reason, that a potential juror was eliminated from the jury for Young’s trial because of her association with a Baptist Church which had a prison ministry. The bishop and other faith leaders state that their petition for a new trial has nothing to do with a belief of whether Young is or isn’t guilty. Nor is the petition brought because of an opposition to capital punishment.
The potential juror was a participant in her church’s Outreach Ministries, a program that was their congregation’s attempt to fulfill the example of Jesus to minister to the poor, the hungry, those without shelter & clothing, the imprisoned and the sick. The woman herself did not work in the prison ministry of the Outreach program but was dismissed as a juror because of her affiliation with a church that had such a ministry.
Indeed, the government struck this juror even though she did not personally work with prisoners, she was removed, in short, because of her mere association with a church that pursued its mission of aiding the weak.
– Robert Hibbs, Retired Bishop of West Texas
Next week the US Supreme Court is scheduled to look into the matter of a new trial on the basis of the excluded juror in a conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices were they discuss the case and decide whether to take it up.