A former prosecutor in Texas today called for DNA testing in the case of a man who is set to be executed later this month. Hank Skinner, who has been requesting DNA testing for a decade, is scheduled to die on March 24 – even though critical evidence in the case has not been subjected to DNA testing that could prove his innocence. In an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, Sam Millsap writes that DNA testing only works if it is used.
If DNA tests could remove the uncertainty about Skinner’s guilt — one way or the other — there’s not a good reason in the world not to do it.
Some taxpayers may grumble at spending the public’s money on DNA tests for individuals on death row. That argument doesn’t hold water in Skinner’s case. In 2000, the investigative journalists at the Medill Innocence Project offered to pay for the DNA tests. Ten years later, that offer still stands. There may be other objections to testing the evidence, but they don’t outweigh the potential horror of executing an innocent man.
Skinner’s execution date is just a few days away, but key pieces of evidence have never been tested, including two knives, one of which might be the murder weapon; a man’s windbreaker, which had blood, sweat and hair on it and was found next to the victim’s body; the victim’s fingernails, which may have DNA evidence under them; and samples from a rape kit.
Skinner has maintained his innocence since his arrest and his attorneys filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court asking to stop his execution so DNA testing can be conducted.
Read the full op-ed here
. Houston Chronicle (03/10/10)