BANGOR — A black man charged with a Cherryfield murder is saying he doesn’t want to wear a mask at court in fear that it will create a negative bias.
Accused murderer Carine Reeves, 39, of New York said he won’t get a fair trial if he’s required to wear a mask.
He is charged with murder in the shooting death of Sally Shaw, 55, of New Gloucester.
Her body was found on July 19, 2017 on the side of a road in Cherryfield with a bullet wound to her head. Investigators have said it was a drug-fueled love triangle gone wrong.
Attorney Stephen Smith filed paperwork at the Penobscot Judicial Center Wednesday asking the judge to allow his client to go without a face covering, which is now required for all who enter the courthouse because of the coronavirus.
“Mask wearing retains an infamous place in this county’s history and masks have been traditionally associated with the commission of crimes,” the filing states, and “African Americans are particularly prone to racial profiling solely due to the fact that they are wearing a mask.”
Smith added, “a requirement that he wear a mask throughout the trial undermines his due process rights and places a greater risk that the jury will find the defendant guilty.”
Smith cites a North Carolina study about whether black men wearing masks causes increased anxiety.
The study shows there is a difference between which style of mask is worn, and that cloth masks or bandanas do lead to people viewing men of color differently.
The study also clearly states wearing a medical mask creates no bias.
Reeves is also asking his street name, “Terror,” not be used during his trial.
The state is expected to file its response well before next month’s trial. Reeves faces 25 years to life, if convicted.