The case of Andre Cole showcases the many flaws within the death penalty system.
Cole’s case is hardly the “worst of the worst” for which the death penalty is intended. Andre and Terri Cole had previously divorced, but had considered reconciling. However, they were at odds in August 1998. Despite Andre working two jobs to keep up mortgage payments on two homes, Terri Cole had his paycheck garnished and changed her phone number, cutting off his ability to stay in contact with their two sons. On the evening of Aug. 21, Andre Cole arrived home to see a light on in the house. When his ex-wife refused to answer the door, he broke in and found her with Anthony Curtis, who, unknown to him, she had been dating. A fight ensued, Mr. Curtis was fatally stabbed and Terri Cole seriously wounded.
While Cole committed a terrible crime, neither Anthony Curtis’s mother or Terri Cole wanted the death penalty. Nonetheless, prosecutors sought a death sentence. Today, Terri Cole is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and doesn’t want to see her children without a parent.
An all-white jury in St. Louis County sentenced Mr. Cole, an African-American, to death. St. Louis County has a documented history of racial disparity in many of its criminal cases, including a troubling pattern of excluding potential black jurors from serving on trial panels. This is what happened in the Cole case where the three African Americans on the jury panel of 30 were removed by the peremptory challenges of the prosecution, raising the concern of whether Cole had the promised “jury of his peers.”
With the Cole execution looming, contact Governor Jay Nixon today at 573-751-3222 or by email and urge him to show mercy in this case by either commuting Cole’s sentence to life without parole or by halting the execution and convene a board of inquiry to examine the issues in the case.