Judge Commutes 3 Death Sentences To Life

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina judge is commuting the death sentences of three inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole after ruling that race played an unjust role in jury selection at their trials.

Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks' ruling Thursday under the state's Racial Justice Act is based on evidence presented over four weeks of hearings that he says showed prosecutors in each case made a concerted effort to reduce the number of black jurors.

The cases involve convicted murderers Christina "Queen" Walters, Tilmon Golphin and Quintel Augustine. Earlier this year, another inmate became the first to have his sentence commuted to life without parole under the provisions of the 2009 law, which legislators made more restrictive this year.