Saturday, April 5, 2008

Christopher McCowen Denied New Trial

Bringing this blog back to the Cape, Christopher McCowen, the trash collector convicted of killing fashion writer Christa Worthington, has been denied a new trial by Judge Gary Nickerson following serious allegations of racial bias within the jury that convicted him. I have already written up a lengthy post about the crime and the trial itself, which I will not go over again in detail here, so please read the link above if you want to reacquaint yourself with the issue.

The judge presiding over the case, the aforementioned Judge Gary Nickerson, stated that McCowen did not deserve a new trial because the charges of racial bias tainting the jury were unfounded. He did not go into much detail beyond that (at least as the media is reporting it and I currently cannot find a full transcript of Nickerson's decision). It is disappointing because it seemed like the the charges of racial bias, if not completely true, had some truth in them and Nickerson's denial of a new trial is, if you believe that race played a role in this, condoning this type of behavior. I would also like to know how Nickerson came to the conclusion that the charges were unfounded.

But what is even more confounding is what Cape and Islands District Attorney Micheal O'Keefe said following the ruling: "Though it's not perfect, O'Keefe said, 'The system works.'" It is confounding that someone who works within the system everyday feels that this system works. This system is broken in so many ways - from the initial contact with the system through the police all the way up to the "correctional" system and incarceration. This is the same legal system that legally segregated blacks and white for almost 50 years, the same system that allowed laws against sodomy - which is defined legally as any sex beyond vaginal penetration - until 2003, the system that let OJ Simpson walk, the system that is not even respected by our presidents, a system that has incorrectly incarcerated over 200 people (that has been proven so far), kept Genarlow Wilson in jail for years, a system that has executed an innocent man (who knows how many others). The system is far from perfect, Mr. O'Keefe, nor is it exactly "working."

Of course, Michael O'Keefe himself does not believe in the system. Let's not forget that he asked all men in Truro to give up a sample of their DNA to match up to the DNA found on Worthington (who O'Keefe has called a "slut" in the past). Of course, anyone who has glanced over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (specifically the 4th Amendment) knows that it is an American's right to be protected from "unreasonable searches and seizures." It's not very reasonable (or cost- or time- effective) to test every male's DNA in Truro. O'Keefe should probably get off his high horse with this case, which has been marred from the beginning (from the three year delay in a suspect, to the fact that the Worthington's family wanted him off the case, to a juror getting kicked off the jury during final deliberations).

While I originally thought that Nickerson would grant McCowen a new trial, it appears that this will not happen. Is McCowen innocent? I have no idea. Does he deserve a new trial because of what has been alleged? I believe so. He may be guilty, and if he is I think it would be better to have him convicted by a jury that is not tainted by allegations of racial bias. As far as O'Keefe goes, hopefully he handles future investigations a little better than the Worthington one and won't call victims sluts or try to get people to forgo their constitutional rights. Peace.

Photos - Christopher McCowen (, Christa Worthington (, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe (


  1. #1: Its DNA was found in the victim,#2:I dont care if there was racial bias,The DNA recovered is proof it raped and murdered this beautiful woman.You seem to think that if a criminal is black,they shouldnt be held accountable for their actions,typical NAACP non sence.Why dont you do a blog on the rape,torture and murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom and how the knoxville chapter of the NAACP threatened to boycott all the major news stations if they reported on it.Their excuse was they didnt want a race riot,when what they really wanted to do was suppress the fact that all 5 negro scum were members of the NAACP.How is it that everytime a negro is caught and convitcted of a crine,they claim racism.Its the new negro mantra.