Three Black males were charged with double murder for killing a Black couple in San Francisco in 2012. The victims were Christopher Zinn, 24, and his girlfriend, Brieanna Dow, 21. The prosecutors believe Zinn stole a gun from the trio.
In 2016, a California court sentenced Sheldon Silas, 33, Reginald Whitley, 40, and Lamar Michaels, 34, to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional 57 to 77 years.
Now, Division One of the First Appellate District of California has thrown out the convictions for all three. Attorneys for the killers appealed the convictions, claiming Deputy District Attorney Melissa Smith asked inappropriate questions to “Potential Juror 275.” Smith dismissed the potential juror because of her political support for Black Lives Matter. The appeal claimed that dismissing someone for being a supporter of the BLM political movement was tantamount to dismissing someone for being Black.
Presiding Justice Jim Humes declared, “there was evidence that the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office in general, and this prosecutor in particular, had in the past exercised peremptory challenges on the basis of race.”
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office says they are considering a retrial.