Chocolate Penis May Trigger Death Trial Redo

Supreme Court rules over bizarre gift from jurors to judge

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 20, 2010 4:25 AM CST

(Newser) – A Georgia death row inmate may win a reprieve because of a chocolate penis and pair of breasts. Jurors at the 1993 murder trial of Marcus Wellons sent the lewd gifts to the judge and chief bailiff after Wellons was sentenced to death. "There were unusual events going on behind the scenes" at that trial, the Supreme Court decided yesterday, ruling that Atlanta's federal appeals court should take a closer look at the case.

"Judicial proceedings conducted for the purpose of deciding whether a defendant shall be put to death must be conducted with dignity and respect," the justices wrote in a 5-4 decision. Lawyers for Wellons, who was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl, argue that the gifts show "evidence of the jury's racial bias," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Marcus Wellons was sentenced to death in 1993 for the rape and murder of a teenager in suburban Atlanta.
Marcus Wellons was sentenced to death in 1993 for the rape and murder of a teenager in suburban Atlanta.   (Georgia Department of Correction)
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The disturbing facts of this case raise serious questions concerning the conduct of the trial. - Majority opinion from the Supreme Court

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