Supreme Court Questions Murder Conviction, ADEM Investigates Black Warrior Fish Kill

Jun 21, 2016

United States Supreme Court
Credit Equal Justice Initiative

The U.S. Supreme Court says lower courts in Alabama and two other states must re-examine three death penalty convictions for evidence of racial prejudice in jury selection.

The court ruled yesterday in the cases of Christopher Floyd of Alabama, Jabari Williams of Louisiana and Curtis Giovanni Flowers of Mississippi.

These brief decisions follow the Supreme Court's decision last month to overturn the conviction and death sentence of a Georgia man because of evidence that prosecutors intentionally excluded black people from the jury. That decision underscored a 30-year-old ruling seeking to prevent the exclusion of minorities from juries.

Christopher Floyd was sentenced to death after he was convicted of capital murder in 2005 for the 1992 killing of Waylon Crawford. The jury in the original case was all white. Attorneys ruled out 22 potential black jurors during selection. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed Floyd’s conviction last year.

A large number of dead fish were found at the top of the Black Warrior River this weekend. APR student reporter Katie Willem has more.

State officials are investigating after dozens of dead fish were found at Mulberry Fork south of Jasper, near the William Crawford Gorgas coal-fired power plant operated by Alabama Power.

Lance LeFleur is the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. He says ADEM is collaborating with other organizations to figure out what happened.

“Our people are continuing to investigate it. They’re taking samples and working with The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and others in the area, to try to zero in on what the cause of the fish kill might be.”

Alabama Power is also participating in the investigation. As of right now, it is unclear whether the fish kill is connected to the plant’s operations.

The decision over whether or not food trucks will be allowed to operate in downtown Tuscaloosa will come up again during tonight’s city council meeting.

The option of creating a “food truck zone” has been suggested, but operators are concerned the zone won’t be in an area of town with high foot traffic.

Dustin Spruill is the owner of Local Roots. He says food trucks present another option for the community.

“If people want to decide to eat at a food truck, they can. If they want to decide to go sit at a brick-and-mortar, they can. I think we need to leave those decisions up to the public, and if they come to our truck, that’s great, or they go eat somewhere else—I think we’re trying to make decisions for people, rather than allowing the public to make their own decisions.”

Spruill says there seems to be growing interest in food trucks from the community. Last month, over one thousand people attended Northport’s “Trucks by the Tracks.”