Jeffrey Scott Young, a well-known white supremacist covered in head to toe racist tattoos, is no longer facing the death penalty for murder because the prosecution focused too heavily on his body art during the trial.
Young’s tattoos include a swastika and other Nazi symbols, a Confederate flag and a tree with a noose dangling from it. Some make coded references to Adolf Hitler and the white power movement, while others were more in-your-face. “California Skinhead,” one said. Another included the n-word, The Washington Postreported.
During the trial’s prosecuting attorney’s closing argument in 2006, she said Young’s tattoos were proof that he deserved no mercy and should be sentenced to death.
“What you permanently put on your body,” she said, “says a whole lot about what you are thinking and about who you are.”
Because of that statement and others like that, Young is off the hook.
The California Supreme Court overturned Young’s death sentence in a unanimous decision on Thursday.
The thinking behind the decision is that Young’s racist views, white supremacist tattoos, and affiliation with neo-Nazi groups like the Aryan Brotherhood and American Front weren’t relevant to the crime he was accused of committing and the prosecutors should not have asked the jury to take his tattoos and affiliation into account.
The murders that Young participated in back in the 1990s were during armed robberies.
However, after one of the robberies, Young had put red laces in his boots, which signified to other skinheads that he had drawn the blood “of an enemy” and claimed that he had earned them because the toll operator he shot and killed, Teresa Perez, was “a Mexican.”
Despite that, the state supreme court still decided that Young’s hateful beliefs didn’t provide a motive for the crime and they described the prosecution’s attacks on his blatant racism as “inflammatory character evidence.”
According to the Chronicle, the ruling still upheld Young’s murder convictions but requires prosecutors to either reduce his sentence to life without the possibility of parole, or hold a new trial on the question of whether he should receive the death penalty.