death penalty DNA testing Governor Rick Perry Hank Skinner Innocence Project reprieve

Arizona DNA Laboratory Offers Free Testing in Skinner Case

Hank Skinner is scheduled to be executed on March 24, 2010. After the most recent denial by the Court of Criminal Appeals for a stay of execution, Skinner’s life now weighs in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole, and Governor Rick Perry.

The most contested issue in the Skinner case has been the untested forensic evidence left at the scene of the 1993 murder of Twila Busby and her two adult sons. DNA testing of, specifically, a man’s windbreaker, knives, and rape kit left at the scene could prove Skinner’s innocence. Now, a week before his scheduled execution, Chromosal Laboratories, out of Phoenix, Arizona has told Governor Perry that they will test the evidence for free and within 30 days if the governor grants a reprieve.
A statement by the laboratory said the following, “When simple DNA testing may help prevent such a miscarriage [of justice], it seems implausible that the Governor and State of Texas would allow the execution to proceed.”
The governor has the authority to grant a one-time 30-day reprieve, but has only done so twice in the past. The governor has been urged this past week to grant the reprieve and force DNA testing to declare guilt by such notable Texans as Senator Rodney Ellis, Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, and Cory Session, the brother of Tim Cole who was posthumously pardoned this past month.
The Texas Tribune covered this development and the corresponding article can be found here.
Also, Michael Landauer’s Texas Death Penalty Blog for the Dallas Morning News can be found here.