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Marcus Reymond Robinson (Photo: N.C. Dept. of Public Safety)

A ruling for Marcus Reymond Robinson’s petition is expected in the next few weeks. Robinson, a black male convicted of killing a white teenager in 1991, is the first inmate to test North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act that allows death row inmates to appeal their sentence on the basis that racial bias played a role in their sentencing.

The landmark piece of legislation, signed into law in 2009, allows death row inmates to bring statistics before judges to help make their case that racial bias played a role in their sentencing. If they can prove that it did, they win an opportunity to have their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Robinson’s case is being closely followed by legal scholars, lawyers and politicians.