A federal appeals court has stayed the execution of a Navajo man convicted of the murder of a 63-year-old fellow tribal member and her 9-year-old granddaughter. Lezmond Mitchell is the only Native American on federal death row.
His execution was scheduled for December 11. But the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals put it on hold in a split decision Friday.
Mitchell's attorneys had asked for the stay to investigate potential racial bias by the jury that heard his case. A hearing is scheduled December 13 in Phoenix.
The U.S. Justice Department announced earlier this year that it would resume executing death row prisoners after almost two decades.
Mitchell was convicted in the 2001 killings of Alyce Slim and her granddaughter during a carjacking on the Navajo Nation.