WASHINGTON - The US Supreme Court has said it will consider reinstating a three-decade-old death sentence handed down to a Hispanic man by an all-white jury in California. Hector Ayala was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985, after he was found guilty of killing three people in a drug robbery in San Diego. The prosecutor excused seven black and Hispanic candidates, and the final panel only had white jurors.  The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in 2012 that Ayala had been denied a fair trial, and his death row sentence was dismissed pending a new trial.

California’s prosecutor appealed to the Supreme Court to hear Ayala’s case and reinstate the death penalty. California has not executed anyone since 2006, but the state has 745 prisoners condemned to death, the largest death row population in the United States. Without commenting on the issues, the top US court agreed to consider the case. Arguments are expected to heard in the coming months, with a final decision likely in June.