The state Supreme Court has thrown out a man’s murder conviction in a 2006 gang-related shooting in Pioneer Square, ruling that the prosecutor who tried the case resorted to “racist arguments” to attack defense witnesses.
The court, in an 8-1 ruling, found that James Konat, a veteran King County deputy prosecutor now trying a high-profile murder case, engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct” in questioning witnesses during the trial of Kevin L. Monday Jr., who was convicted in 2007 of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison.
During the trial, Konat questioned witnesses, many of them black, about a purported street “code” that he claimed prevented some from talking to the police, according to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion written by Justice Tom Chambers. In questioning some witnesses, Konat made references to the “PO-leese,” the justices found.
During his closing argument to jurors, Konat also said that while witnesses denied the presence of such a code, “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police,” according to the Supreme Court decision.
Monday, 25, is black; Konat is white.
Monday appealed the conviction on a number of grounds, claiming that Konat “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race,” according to the Supreme Court.
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