Native American inmate asks court to stay execution
August 21, 2020
The only Native American on federal death row has asked the Supreme Court to put his death sentence on hold. In a filing submitted Tuesday, Lezmond Mitchell urged the justices to stay his execution, scheduled for Aug. 26, while they consider whether to take up his claim that he should be able to interview the jurors who convicted him about whether their deliberations were tainted by racial bias.
Mitchell, a Navajo man, was convicted of the 2001 carjacking and stabbing deaths of Alyce Slim and her nine-year-old granddaughter, who were also Navajos. After he used Slim’s pickup truck in an armed robbery on the Navajo reservation, Mitchell was arrested; he then directed Navajo police officers to the victims’ mutilated bodies.
Mitchell was tried in federal court in 2003 before a jury made up of 11 white people and one Native American. Prosecutors told the jury that, in the Old West, Mitchell “would have been taken out back” and “strung up.” He was sentenced to death, and his death sentence was upheld on appeal.