Supreme Court To Hear Case Of Texas Death Row Prisoner Seeking DNA Testing

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
May 24, 2010 4:55 pm

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Supreme Court To Hear Case Of Texas Death Row Prisoner Seeking DNA Testing


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NEW YORK – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to decide whether a Texas death row prisoner should be allowed to have evidence in his case undergo DNA testing which could establish his innocence. Henry W. “Hank” Skinner, convicted of three 1993 murders, believes that he is entitled to DNA testing under a federal civil rights law.

Among the pieces of evidence that Skinner would like tested are blood taken from the murder weapons, skin taken from under the fingernails of one of the victims as well as a rape test from her that includes semen, and hair and blood found at the scene of the crime. A number of investigations into the crimes and the alleged involvement of Skinner, who has maintained his innocence, have sharply called into question his guilt.

DNA evidence has led to nearly 140 exonerations of death row prisoners during the past three decades.

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

“It is unconscionable, and at odds with our shared American values of fairness, due process and justice, that the state of Texas would seek to execute a man when the evidence in his case has not been exhaustively tested. The sheer number of death row exonerations resulting from DNA testing shows that our death penalty system is fraught with error and systemic injustices. We should do anything and everything in our power, including conducting DNA testing of evidence, to ensure that we don’t ever execute innocent people.”

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