WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a Louisiana death row inmate seeking a new sentencing hearing, over a dissent from the three liberal justices.
The court turned away David Brown, who was convicted of killing a prison guard, Capt. David Knapps, during a 1999 escape attempt from the state prison in Angola. Brown argues he is entitled to a reconsideration of his death sentence because prosecutors failed to provide his lawyers with evidence that might have led a jury to spare his life.
Only after the sentencing did prosecutors give Brown’s legal team a confession from a fellow inmate, Barry Edge, that supported Brown’s contention that he was not involved in Knapps’ killing.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that the delay violated Brown’s constitutional rights under a 1963 Supreme Court decision requiring the prosecution to turn over material that would help a defendant’s case.
“At no point in the confession did Edge suggest Brown was involved in the fatal attack; his description of the events leading up to the murder did not mention Brown at all,” Jackson wrote, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Brown had joined a group of prisoners in the escape attempt, but claimed he wasn’t there when Knapps was killed inside a bathroom.
A state judge overturned the death sentence, but the Louisiana Supreme Court reinstated it by a 4-3 vote. That court’s majority said Edge’s statement wasn’t favorable to Brown.