death penalty DNA testing execution Hank Skinner Texas

Jury Foreman Calls for DNA Testing for Hank Skinner

Among the many voices calling for DNA testing for Hank Skinner is Danny Stewart, who served as the jury foreman in the original trial.  Read a letter to the editor from Mr. Stewart that appeared on Sunday, November 6, 2011 in the Dallas Morning News:

Re: “Skinner Case: Test It All — Refusal of DNA exams defies law’s intent,” Friday Editorials.

Seventeen years ago, I was the foreman of the jury that convicted Hank Skinner and sentenced him to death. Now I ask the state of Texas not to carry out Skinner’s execution until all of the uncertainty is resolved.


Since the trial, I and many of my fellow jurors have grown increasingly concerned that key pieces of DNA evidence from the crime scene remain untested. Either the tests confirm Skinner’s guilt or prove his innocence and prevent the state from making an irreversible mistake. There is simply no downside.

As jurors, we did the best we could with the information we had, but mistakes happen in our criminal justice system.


Just last month, Michael Morton was freed from a Texas prison after DNA testing proved he had spent 25 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Twelve jurors convicted Morton beyond a reasonable doubt in that case as well.


We have an opportunity for certainty in Skinner’s case, but only if the district attorney provides the evidence for scientific testing. I strongly urge state officials to conduct the testing of all untested evidence. For all of our sakes, we cannot afford to do otherwise.

Danny Stewart, Fort Worth


Additional coverage of the case:

From CNN:

From The New York Times (Texas Edition):

From The Nation: