RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday dismissed an appeal by a death row inmate convicted in the shooting death of a police officer in 2005.
Thomas Alexander Porter’s appeals had previously been rejected twice in federal district court but were sent back for reconsideration in 2015 and 2018 by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which most recently held that a hearing was required on the prisoner’s claim of juror bias.
Porter, 44, is one of only two inmates currently on Virginia’s death row. He was convicted in the slaying of Norfolk police officer Stanley Reaves, who was fatally shot after he stopped Porter to question him. Witnesses in the case said Reaves was shot, fell to the ground and was then shot twice more.
Porter alleged a juror in his trial was biased. But at a hearing held by Judge Henry E. Hudson in February, the juror testified he didn’t intentionally hide the fact that his brother was a deputy sheriff and other family-related matters.
“His repeated, credible reassurances that he did not think about his family’s connection to law enforcement and crime could not have affected his judgment during the trial,” Hudson wrote in his ruling Friday, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “He further reassured counsel that, if he had thought of his family, it would not have affected his ability to remain fair and impartial.”
Rob Lee, Porter’s lawyer with the Virginia Capital Resource Center, wrote in an email Friday that his office will decide how to proceed after reviewing Hudson’s ruling.