updated 10/6/2008 2:36:07 PM ET 2008-10-06T18:36:07

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a murder case in which a jury foreman read passages of the Bible to hold-out jurors who subsequently voted to impose the death penalty.

Without comment, the justices declined to consider whether the jury foreman's conduct violated the rights of Jimmie Lucero, an Amarillo, Texas, man sentenced to death after being convicted in the shotgun slayings of three neighbors at their home in 2003.

The state of Texas argued that the Bible passage merely duplicated instructions of the trial court. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found the introduction of the Bible into the jury room to be "harmless error."

A Texas jury took about five hours to decide on the death penalty for Lucero.

The two jurors who switched their votes said the reading of the scripture and its content had no impact on their votes.

During deliberations, the foreman read aloud from Romans 13:1-6, which states that everyone must submit to authority and that those who do wrong should be afraid, for a ruler is "God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment to the wrongdoer."

Lucero was convicted in the killings of 71-year-old Pedro Robledo, his 72-year-old wife, Maria, and their daughter, Fabiana, 31.

The case is Lucero v. Texas, 07-1429.

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