death penalty DNA testing Governor Rick Perry Hank Skinner reprieve Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles U.S. Supreme Court

Board of Pardon and Paroles and the Case of Hank Skinner

As the execution date for Hank Skinner quickly approaches, the avenues for which the convicted murder of Twila Busby and her two adult sons, are diminishing. Despite maintaining his innocence and the overwhelming push by various entities for additional DNA testing of forensic evidence left at the scene of the murders, the March 24, 2010 execution date can only be stopped by the United States Supreme Court, Governor Rick Perry, or the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

A March 19, 2010 article in the Texas Tribune covers the highly elusive Board which makes life and death decisions, recommending to the governor whether an execution should be called off, stayed, or carried out. Seven appointed members make up the Board, and a decision for clemency can only be made with a majority vote. However, the Board is not legally obligated to meet, having the option to simply send a fax vote without any written record of why such a vote occurred. Although legislation for reform has been proposed to make the pardon process more transparent and guided, the issue is unlikely to be fully discussed during the next legislative session.
As for today, in the case of Hank Skinner, attorneys have “asked the Supreme Court to force Texas courts to do DNA testing; they have written Perry, asking him to use his authority to grant a one-time 30-day reprieve for additional testing; and Skinner has applied to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for clemency and has had an interview with board staff to plead his case.”
All that is left to do is continue to urge for a reprieve on behalf of the governor to stop this forthcoming execution before all the evidence has been sufficiently tested.
To view the entire Texas Tribune article click here.

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