Two Aryan Brotherhood gang leaders convicted of murder and eligible for the death penalty have the right to confront their accusers during their sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Oliver Carter ruled yesterday, says the Associated Press. AP says the decision “could have wide-ranging implications for the U.S. court system.” The ruling blocks the government from making its case for the execution of Barry “The Baron” Mills and Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham purely on documents, transcripts, and third-person accounts by prison officials. The kingpins of the white supremacist prison gang were convicted last month of murder, conspiracy, and racketeering charges in crimes going back as far as 30 years.
Carter said that the 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Crawford vs. Washington, which involves the right of defendants to confront accusers, applies sentencing hearings in federal death penalty cases. “Because the death penalty is uniquely different in its finality and severity, increased scrutiny is required at every step of the capital process to ensure that death is the appropriate penalty,” Carter said. The Aryan Brotherhood prosecution has been described as one of the largest death penalty cases in U.S. history.