Monday, 8 February 2010

Texas Inmate Facing Execution Denied DNA Testing

Henry Skinner is scheduled for execution in Texas on February 24 despite the lack of DNA testing of critical evidence from the crime scene that could lead to his exoneration. Skinner has always maintained his innocence of the 1993 murder of his girlfriend and her two grown sons in Tampa, Texas. At his trial, the prosecution presented the results of selective DNA testing on some of the crime evidence that tended to prove Skinner's presence at the scene, which was his place of residence, a fact he has never disputed. But the state has repeatedly refused his request to test other evidence, including material found on the victim, that could point to another suspect. In addition, an investigation by journalism students from Northwestern University in 1999 and 2000 revealed that a key witness from the trial had recanted her testimony linking Skinner to the crime. Texas has already executed a number of individuals who may have been innocent, leaving a cloud of doubt on the fairness of the criminal justice system. By conducting relatively routine DNA tests before his execution, the doubts surrounding Skinner's case could be resolved one way or the other.

Skinner's attorneys have filed motions for a stay of execution to allow for the DNA testing and are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the effectiveness of his trial counsel and other issues in the case.


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