Chamblee54

The Juror Who Said The N-Word

Posted in Library of Congress, Race, The Death Penalty by chamblee54 on September 24, 2017


Keith Tharpe is scheduled to die Tuesday night. There is little doubt that he is guilty. The only thing to worry about are some *intemperate* comments by a juror, Barnie Gattie.

“The crime occurred on September 25, 1990. Tharpe was arrested the same day. He was tried on January 2 through January 10, 1991.” Mr. Gattie was interviewed by attorneys in 1998.

Mr. Gattie was interviewed by attorneys during the appeals process. He made some comments that featured the *n word*. (This word will be spelled out when quoting court documents. If you don’t like this, you are encouraged to skip over the text, and look at the pictures.) The corporate media has responded with sensational headlines, like A Black Man Convicted By a Racist Juror Is About to Be Executed. You should never neglect an opportunity to call Georgia racist.

When looking at these articles, PG noted different versions of what Mr. Gattie said. He tried to find a copy of the original statement. It was on page fifteen of this court document.

“At the May 28, 1998 state habeas evidentiary hearing, Tharpe tendered affidavits from several jurors, including Barney Gattie. In his affidavit, Gattie stated: “I . . . knew the girl who was killed, Mrs. Freeman. Her husband and his family have lived in Jones [C]ounty a long time. The Freemans are what I would call a nice Black family. In my experience I have observed that there are two types of black people. 1. Black folks and 2. Niggers. For example, some of them who hang around our little store act up and carry on. I tell them, “nigger, you better straighten up or get out of here fast.” My wife tells me I am going to be shot by one of them one day if I don’t quit saying that. I am an upfront, plainspoken man, though. Like I said, the Freemans were nice black folks. If they had been the type Tharpe is, then picking between life or death for Tharpe wouldn’t have mattered so much. My feeling is, what would be the difference. As it was, because I knew the victim and her husband’s family and knew them all to be good black folks, I felt Tharpe, who wasn’t in the “good” black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did. Some of the jurors voted for death because they felt that Tharpe should be an example to other blacks who kill blacks, but that wasn’t my reason. The others wanted blacks to know they weren’t going to get away with killing each other. After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls. Integration started in Genesis. I think they were wrong. For example, look at O.J. Simpson. That white woman wouldn’t have been killed if she hadn’t have married that black man.”

Subsequently, the state habeas court allowed the parties to depose eleven of the juror who stilled lived in Georgia. The depositions were taken over a two day period (October 1 and 2, 1998) in the presence of the court. At his deposition, Gattie testified that he consumed alcohol every weekend. He stated that he had been drinking alcohol on the Saturday he first spoke with representatives from the Georgia Resource Center. When they returned on Memorial Day with the affidavit for him to sign, he had again been drinking. He testified that he had consumed a twelve pack of beer and a few drinks of whiskey before signing the affidavit. Gattie stated he was not told what the affidavit was going to be used for, he did not read the affidavit, and when the affidavit was read to him, he did not pay attention. He complained that the affidavit was “taken all out of proportion,” or taken “[o]ut of context” and “was misconstrued.” (According to the Georgia Resource Center representatives who interviewed him, they informed Gattie who they were and the reason for their visit, and Gattie did not appear alcohol impaired.)

Gattie testified that he is not “against integration” or “against blacks.” He claimed to think African Americans “are hardworking people” and no more violent than other groups of individuals. Gattie stated that he used the term “nigger,” but not as a racial slur. Instead, he used it describe both white and black people who are “no good,” who do not work, or who commit crimes. Gattie also testified that race was not an issue at deliberations and he never used the term “nigger” during deliberations. In addition to Gattie, the other ten jurors who were deposed testified that Tharpe’s race was not discussed during deliberations, race played no part in their deliberations, no one used racial slurs during deliberations, and racial animus or bias was not a part of the deliberations. Tharpe tendered an affidavit from Tracy Simmons, the only juror who was not deposed, and he did not allege that race played any part in their deliberations or that anyone expressed racial animus or bias during deliberations. Respondent also submitted an affidavit from Gattie in which he stated he did not vote to impose the death penalty because of Tharpe’s race. Instead, he stated he voted for a death sentence because of “the evidence presented” and Tharpe’s lack of “remorse.” In this affidavit, Gattie again distanced himself from the statements shown in the affidavit he signed for Tharpe’s state habeas counsel. He claimed “parts of what he said [were] left out of the statement and other parts were written out of context.”

One thing not mentioned by the corporate media was the fact that Mr. Gattie was drunk when he made the statement. Why would the attorney’s continue with the interview if they knew Mr. Gattie was intoxicated? Did the attorneys lead on Mr. Gattie, and put words in his mouth? How was the affadavit presented to Mr. Gattie for his approval? Mr. Gattie later claimed he “… didn’t pay much attention when the affidavit was read to him. He said many of his statements “were taken out of context and simply not accurate.” He signed the defense affidavit because he “just wanted to get rid of them.” Were these attorneys looking for the truth, or trying to get a drunken old man to say something inappropriate, so they could get Mr. Tharpe’s sentence commuted?

There is no way to know what went on in the jury room twenty six years ago. The guilt of Mr. Tharpe was evident. Some would say the murder was not heinous enough to justify the death penalty. The jury was ten white people, and two black people. Murderpedia has details on the selection of the jury. As in most death penalty cases, there is talk about jury selection during the appeals. There was no way to know, when selecting Barney Gattie, that he would drunkenly use the n-word while talking to an attorney, seven years after the trial.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Many of the photographs were taken in North Platte, Nebraska. John Vachon took the pictures in October, 1938. UPDATE SCOTUS issued a ruling on the case January 8, 2018, with a dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas.

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] battery to the victim.” . Eight years after the trial, one of the jurors was interviewed. He later claimed he was intoxicated during this interview. The juror, Barney Gattie, is now deceased. Here is the story. . “Mr. Gattie expressed his […]

  2. […] doubt that Mr. Tharpe is guilty. A jury sentenced him to death, after deliberating for two hours. The Juror Who Said The N-Word is about the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ of this case. Seven years after the crime, a lawyer […]

  3. Ceremonial Handwringing | Chamblee54 said, on January 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    […] be in the business of ceremonial handwringing,” Thomas lamented, “I respectfully dissent.” ~ The Juror Who Said The N-Word ~ Keith Tharpe And Jaquelin Freeman ~ A juror called this death row inmate the n-word. Now the […]

  4. […] word The problem is endless appeals, trying to find any technicality not to execute someone 091917 092417 010918 My White Friend Asked Me on Facebook to Explain White Privilege contribute your verse ~ The […]

  5. Keith Tharpe Dies | Chamblee54 said, on January 27, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    […] and came close to being carried out. There were complications, and the sentence was postponed. A few years after the trial, an attorney interviewed one of the jurors, Barnie Gattie. Unfortunate things were allegedly said, […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: