February 17, 2009
Contact: Rob Owen, University of Texas, 512-232-9391, firstname.lastname@example.org
STATEMENT OF THE LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM FOR HANK SKINNER REGARDING RE-SCHEDULING OF MR. SKINNER’S EXECUTION
“Today, February 17, we received notice for the first time that the judge of the convicting court yesterday withdrew Mr. Skinner’s previously scheduled February 24 execution date, apparently upholding our challenge to the previously issued warrant of execution as void under Texas law.
We are dismayed that the court chose, in the same order, to re-schedule Mr. Skinner’s execution for March 24. This unseemly haste to execute Mr. Skinner ignores the growing public concern and outcry over the unanswered questions about Mr. Skinner’s guilt. Now, more than ever, DNA testing is necessary to resolve those doubts.
Setting a March 24 execution date also means that Mr. Skinner’s pending lawsuit against the Gray County District Attorney in the United States Supreme Court, seeking the much-needed DNA testing, must now be resolved under needless and entirely artificial time pressures. Given that the District Attorney stands to benefit directly from that undue haste, it is especially disappointing that the court chose to press forward with Mr. Skinner’s execution on March 24.
In addition, there is a very serious legal question whether the trial court even has the authority to set an execution date for someone, like Mr. Skinner, whose post-conviction challenges to his conviction and death sentence have never been heard by the Texas courts.
We remain committed to obtaining the DNA testing our client says will prove his innocence, and will take every available legal step to that end.”