Mississippi Set to Execute Man Despite Untested DNA Evidence

Willie Jerome Manning, a Mississippi death row inmate who was convicted of the 1992 abduction and murders of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, two Mississippi State University students, is set to be executed on May 7th despite his plea that DNA testing could prove that he is innocent. Although Manning was convicted on circumstantial evidence and no physical evidence has ever linked him to the crime, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Thursday that there is “overwhelming evidence of guilt,” and therefore, DNA testing is not needed.

Justice Leslie King, one of the four judges who sided with Manning, found it especially disturbing that hairs that were found in one of the victim’s car were analyzed only to the extent that they were found to be from a black person and that the prosecution linked this evidence to Manning because he is black. “Should a DNA test demonstrate that the African-American hairs found in Miller’s car did not belong to Manning, then the infirmity in the prosecution’s emphasis on the importance of this evidence would be exposed. And it would certainly raise reasonable questions regarding Manning’s guilt,” said King.

The Innocence Project has created a petition calling on Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to stay Manning’s  execution and order the DNA testing that will definitively prove his guilt or innocence. Please add your name here!

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