A Portland man who was convicted for killing a toddler has his case overturned. Prosecutors built the jury that excluded Black jurors. Darian Lee McWoods was sentenced to life in prison in Multnomah County Circuit Court on July 18, 2018. Kamaya Flores was 15 months when she died.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed the murder conviction after finding that prosecutors dismissed two men from the jury pool because they were Black. The defendant is also Black.
The jury, which ultimately had no Black members, found Darian L. McWoods guilty of murder by abuse in the death of his 15-month-old daughter, Kamaya Flores, during a trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court in 2018.
In the ruling released Wednesday, Presiding Judge Josephine Mooney found that while Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Amanda Nadell offered race-neutral reasons to strike both prospective jurors, those arguments were only a “pretext.”
McWoods’ defense attorney at trial, Josephine Townsend, challenged both dismissals under the “Batson” rule, referring to a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting the exclusion of prospective jurors based on their race.
In an interview, Townsend noted Nadell didn’t use for-cause challenges to remove the two Black jurors. For-cause challenges require evidence that the juror in question can’t be impartial.
A medical examiner found broken ribs and both meth and methadone in the child’s system. Paramedics found the child’s body cold and lifeless about 1 p.m. Dec. 17, 2013.