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Supreme Court lets stand death sentence after Bible reading

A death-row inmate claimed the jury foreman violated his fair-trial rights by reading out loud from Romans.

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A Texas death-row inmate has lost his bid for a new sentencing hearing after complaining that the jury foreman at his capital murder trial read a Bible passage aloud to the entire jury before the panel returned his death sentence.

Lawyers for Jimmie Urbano Lucero had asked the US Supreme Court to take up the case to examine whether reading Bible passages aloud during jury deliberations violates fair-trial rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

On Monday, the high court declined to take up the case. The justices offered no explanation. The action lets stand decisions by the courts in Texas affirming Mr. Lucero's death sentence.

Lucero was convicted of carrying out the shotgun murder of three of his neighbors in 2003: a husband, wife, and their daughter. Two other children escaped during the attack and testified against Lucero.

During the penalty phase of the 2005 trial, the jury was asked to decide whether Lucero should receive punishment of life in prison or a death sentence. During an initial straw vote, 10 members of the 12-member jury voted for death. Two jurors opposed a death sentence.

At that point in the deliberations, the jury foreman produced his personal Bible and read a passage aloud to the 11 other jurors. He read from Romans 13: 1-6 in the New International Version of the Bible.

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