Despite calls for DNA testing that could prove his innocence, Willie Manning has been given an execution date of Tuesday, May 7, by the state of Mississippi. On Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that there is “overwhelming evidence of guilt,” so no DNA testing is needed in his case. In a motion filed on Friday, Manning’s attorneys said that the Supreme Court should not allow his execution to proceed “without taking all reasonable steps available to ensure the accuracy of the conviction.”
Manning was convicted of the abduction and murder of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller in 1992 on mostly circumstantial evidence, including the testimony of a jailhouse informant who had previously given a statement implicating another person. No physical evidence has ever linked him to the crime, and he has consistently maintained his innocence. He has been seeking post-conviction DNA testing for years, insisting that technological strides made in the past 20 years could prove him innocent of the crime.
The Associated Press reports:
In a request filed Friday, Manning’s attorneys said the Supreme Court overlooked or misunderstood some matters raised in Manning’s motion for DNA and other forensic testing… Four justices on Thursday sided with Manning.
Justice Leslie King found particular fault with the prosecution’s handling of hairs found in Miller’s car. King said court records show an analysis of the hairs revealed they were from a black person. King said prosecutors told the jury the hairs were from a black person, Manning is black and because he is black Manning killed the two white students.
“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 the evidence would be exposed. And it would certainly raise reasonable questions regarding Manning’s guilt,” King said.
DNA testing can provide definitive proof of guilt or innocence. As the dissenters on the Mississippi Supreme Court noted, it could also identify the person responsible for the crime. Testing in this case will provide surety that Mississippi is not committing a travesty of justice by executing an innocent man.
take action and ask the Governor of Mississippi
to stay the execution of Willie Manning and order DNA testing of the evidence in his case.
Read the AP story