On Texas Death Row, Henry Watkins "Hank" Skinner is fighting to have DNA testing done of evidence that he argues will support his claims of innocence in the beating death of his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two grown-up sons back in 1993.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion that Skinner could proceed in civil court, arguing violation of his civil rights under the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 1983) because the State of Texas post-conviction law on when DNA testing can be done after there has been a trial and a sentencing are in violation of those civil rights.
The High Court didn't decide that the DNA testing could happen. It just opened the doors to a civil courtroom debate on what had happened much earlier, in a criminal one. This is a big deal.
Lots of folk are following the case of Hank Skinner. Some, because they are interested in the civil rights aspects of the case Some, because they are against the death penalty. Others are following along because they believe that Hank Skinner is an innocent man.
One person with a particularly unique perspective here is Kirk Bloodsworth, who supports Skinner's request that the DNA be tested as the first Death Row inmate in the United States to be exonerated after post-conviction DNA testing proved Bloodsworth to be innocent.
No matter the reason for your interest, here are some sites that are doing a fine job in bringing consistent information to us all regarding the Hank Skinner case:
- Hank Skinner.org - this site gives information about the case, as well personal information about Hank Skinner, including instructions on how to contact him by snail mail or email there on Texas Death Row in Huntsville.
- Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty - this site has a page dedicated to following the Hank Skinner case as part of its overall campaign to end capital punishment in Texas.
- Grits for Breakfast - an award-winning site dedicated to informative discussion of the Texas criminal justice system, Grits is monitoring the Hank Skinner case in periodic posts, the latest one being published on October 25, 2011, " Why does Texas AG continue to fight DNA testing in Hank Skinner case?"
- The Texas Tribune - a Texas online newspaper founded by the former head of Texas Monthly is covering the Hank Skinner story in depth, including yesterday's story about the Big Letter that was sent to Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Abbott asking for DNA testing - and signed by big kahunas like former Texas Governor Mark White.
What Can You Do for Hank Skinner?
Other than informing others, etc., you can sign the petition by the Texas Coalition here or contact the Texas Governor by phone, fax, or email at the contact information provided on his web site.