The Next Troy Davis?

Hank Skinner is scheduled to be executed in Texas on November 9, despite untested DNA evidence that his attorneys argue would likely demonstrate his claims of innocence in the 1993 deaths of his girlfriend and her two sons.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Skinner asked a federal court to keep his lawsuit open, which claims the state violated his civil rights by withholding access to the evidence he wants tested, including vaginal swabs, fingernail clippings, knives, and a jacket.  This evidence was not tested at the time of Skinner’s trial because his lawyer feared the results would hurt his case.  The Supreme Court ruled in March that Skinner could ask for the DNA tests but did not rule on whether the district attorney had to surrender those items for testing.  A state court is expected to make that decision soon.

This is Skinner’s third request for the evidence but the first since a Texas law took effect on September 1 that allows DNA testing of evidence even if the offender chose not to seek testing before trial. Prosecutors argue that this new law does not apply to Skinner and they claim that this is just a stunt to try to delay his death.  They’ve asked the court to rule in their favor and dismiss his civil rights lawsuit.

Skinner came within an hour of lethal injection last year before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay. As his execution date approaches, it is imperative these items be tested.  If you have not signed it yet, click here to add your name to the petition asking the prosecutor in the case to allow the DNA testing.

Photo courtesy of National Turk

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