The Texas Observer is reporting today on the results of DNA testing of evidence that was used to convict and execute Claude Jones on December 7, 2000. The one-inch strand of hair was the only physical evidence that tied Jones to the crime scene and murder of liquor store owner Allen Hilzendager. According to the Observer, the DNA results show that the hair belonged to the victim, not to Jones, as a forensic expert had testified as his trial.
Earlier this summer, State District Judge Paul Murphy granted a motion from The Innocence Project and the Observer and ordered local prosecutors to turn over the hair sample for testing.
In his earlier reporting on the story, Dave Mann of the Observer noted that “questions about Jones’ guilt have long lingered” and that the case against him included fuzzy eyewitness testimony and the questionable testimony of two other suspects, both of who were spared the death penalty for their testimony.
The results of this DNA testing raise yet more questions about the reliability and fairness of the Texas death penalty system. It comes on the heels of the exoneration of Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in person – including 12 on death row- for a crime he did not commit. Graves is the 12th person to be exonerated from death row in Texas and the 139th nationwide.
Read the exclusive story in The Texas Observer.
Read an earlier TCADP blog post on this subject.