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MO Sup. Court Overturns Death Sentence


Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Supreme Court today overturned the conviction and death sentence in a 1998 killing in Joplin that prosecutors said was racially motivated.

Gary Black, who is white, was sentenced to death after his conviction of first-degree murder in the death of a black a Missouri Southern State College football player, Jason Johnson.

The high court ruling reverses the conviction and orders that Black get a new trial. His attorneys argued that his public defenders had failed to cross-examine witnesses, including his girlfriend, about inconsistent testimony.

Prosecutors said the stabbing was racially motivated. Johnson had bumped into the Black's girlfriend in a convenience store, and the woman said she mistakenly believed Johnson was making a pass at her.

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