A copy of the Ten Commandments hanging in a North Carolina courtroom has been covered up after the attorneys for an admitted killer on trial claimed the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” might sway jurors against their client.

Andre Edwards is on trial for killing a young mother, Ginger Hayes, and has admitted to the crime, reported WTVD-TV in Durham, N.C. His lawyers convinced Judge Clinton Sumner to put a beige cloth over a plaque of the Decalogue that hangs in the courtroom. According to the report, the attorneys argued the prohibition against killing might prejudice the jurors toward giving Edwards the death penalty.

Since the judge’s decision, hundreds of people have protested the action.

“To me, it’s offensive,” Charles Dudley, pastor of Nashville Church of God, told the station. “To me, it is as if saying that what God set down no longer stands.”

Edwards allegedly raped and murdered Hayes before leaving her infant son to die in scorching 90-degree heat, WTVD reported.

Linda Hart is collecting hundreds of signatures on a petition against the judge’s decision.

“Why should we give up our rights for him to have all the rights? Why should that young girl that got killed – her rights, nobody thinks about her. She’s not here to speak for herself,” Hart said.

Besides circulating the petition, which will be delivered to the judge, Christians have planned to stage a protest outside the courthouse in Nash County where the trial is taking place.

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