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Murder Suspect: Take Down Court's Robert E. Lee Portrait

Darcel Nathaniel Murphy's lawyers say it could influence jurors
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2018 12:54 PM CDT
Robert E. Lee, though not the version that appears in the courtroom.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Look behind the judge presiding over the Circuit Court courtroom in Louisa County, Virginia, and you'll see a large portrait of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. That's a problem according to a man set to be tried for murder in that very room. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Darcel Nathaniel Murphy's lawyers last Monday filed a 12-page motion asking that his trial for the March 2016 shooting death of Kevin Robinson not take place in a room containing "images that could be interpreted as glorifying, memorializing, or otherwise endorsing the efforts of those who fought on behalf of the Confederate cause or its principles." Murphy is black, and Robinson's sister tells the Times-Dispatch that's beside the point. "We're all black," she says of her late brother and her family.

"Whatever is in the courthouse, it’s been there; it’s not hurting anybody. We all recognize Virginia [was] a Confederate state," she continues, while sounding the alarm over the potential for the community to end up "in an uproar over my brother's murder. ... We don't want [that]." But Murphy's lawyers contend they're just trying to ensure "racial considerations do not play a role in the proceedings" as such portraiture could influence jurors and witnesses, and they point out there are smaller Confederate-related portraits present as well. CBS News reports Robinson's body was found under a blanket by a family member. Two additional men were charged with his murder, but only Murphy could face the death penalty if convicted. (Trump recently referenced Lee, and the media pounced on his comments.)

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