Execution on hold in Tennessee after racism argument raised

Tennessee's pending execution of a black inmate has been put on hold after he raised accusations that racism tainted the jury selection at his trial

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The pending execution of a black inmate was put on hold Wednesday by Tennessee's highest court after the inmate said racism tainted the jury selection at his trial.

In August, a Nashville judge approved an agreement between Abu-Ali Abdur-Rahman and Nashville's district attorney to resentence Abdur'Rahman to life in prison because of the racism claims. Under the order, Abdur'Rahman was to remain on death row for 30 days until the order became final, at which time he would be reclassified and moved. However, Tennessee's attorney general appealed the agreement three weeks later, putting the resentencing on hold and leaving Abdur'Rahman on death row.

Abdur'Rahman was scheduled to be executed in April, but the Tennessee Supreme Court's Wednesday order puts that off until the appeal can be heard.

Abdur'Rahman was sentenced to die for the 1986 murder of Patrick Daniels. Police said Daniels and Norma Jean Norman were bound with duct tape and stabbed repeatedly with a butcher knife at Norman's home.

Norman survived and Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk has said he spoke with her before agreeing to the resentencing. Funk said Norman has forgiven Abdur'Rahman but does not want to see him ever released from prison.

Abdur'Rahman's resentencing agreement with Funk came after Abdur'Rahman presented evidence that prosecutors at his original trial showed a preference for white jurors. In his appeal, Attorney General Herbert Slatery argued that the agreement “circumvented established legal procedures.”

Attorneys for Abdur'Rahman have argued that Slatery's appeal threatens the division of power between the attorney general and local prosecutors. They argue that Funk does not require Slatery's approval nor can Slatery veto Funk's decisions.