Judge allows Tennessee inmate to be taken off death row and avoid execution

Posted at 7:23 AM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 19:46:30-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville judge has allowed a death row inmate to serve three consecutive life sentences instead of facing execution.

Attorneys for Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman say prosecutors agreed to call off his scheduled execution, which was set to take place in April 2020. District Attorney Glenn Funk struck a deal with Abdur’Rahman’s attorneys after he asked for a new trial, saying the prosecutor in his original trial kept African Americans off the jury out of discrimination.

Judge Monte Watkins officially approved the deal on Friday, saying the ruling would "remedy a legal injustice."

DA Funk issued a statement, saying in part: “A prosecutor’s job is to pursue justice, and to do so with honestly, integrity, and fairness. District Attorneys hold immense power over life and liberty. Overt Racial Bias has no place in the justice system.” Read the full statement here.

Read more: Prosecutors agree to vacate death sentence for Tennessee inmate; judge has to approve deal

A 2016 legal filing cited prosecutor John Zimmerman's “racist motivations” in his challenges to keep two African Americans off the 1987 jury that would try and later convict Abdur'Rahman.

Zimmerman has also faced more recent controversy. He was the prosecutor behind the botched Operation Candy Crush raids in Rutherford County last year, when investigators seized what they thought were candies containing a form of marijuana from convenience stores. In fact, those candies contained CBD, a legal form of hemp.

Abdur'Rahman will now face three back-to-back life sentences. Prosecutors say he will die in prison for the stabbing death of Patrick Daniels and the stabbing of Norma Jean Norman, who survived.