The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently decided and rejected Christopher McCowen’s appeal of his conviction for the Murder of Christa Worthington in 2002. In a unanimous decision, Massachusetts’ highest court unanimously ruled that the defendant’s appeal was without merit and found “no basis on which to reduce the degree of guilt or order a new trial.”
Christopher McCowen, of Hyannis, Massachusetts, was convicted of the Rape and Murder of Christa Worthington in 2002 in her home in Truro on Cape Cod. McCowen was found by a jury to have first raped and then stabbed her. Worthington was found in her home as her 2.5 year old daughter was against her mother’s lifeless body. The daughter was unharmed.
Despite McCowen having lost his appeal, the decision did raise some concerns, particularly with racial issues that were made public shortly after the trial, raising the concern of racial bias during jury deliberations. Specifically, after the conviction, it was revealed that, during jury deliberations, for example, one white female juror referred to McCowen as “a big black man” who had been trying to intimidate her by staring at her in the courtroom. She also stated that bruises like those found on the victim’s body would result when “a big black man beats up on a small woman” These statements obviously offended fellow jurors, and in particular, a black female juror, which led to a confrontation within the jury room. As a result of these and other allegations of racial impropriety having occurred during jury deliberations, the trial judge held a 2-day hearing a year after McCowen’s conviction in 2006.