Texas Death Row's Hank Skinner Execution Stayed as Focus Shifts to Prosecutors' Actions

DNA testing for Death Row inmates gets a lot of attention over in Texas, but it's really a national issue -- and lots of eyes are turned to Austin this week as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the November 8, 2011, execution of Hank Skinner.  Skinner's fight is far from over: the opinion states that the stay has been granted so the court can " ... take the time to fully review the changes in the statute as they pertain to this case."

Skinner still has not found victory in his fight to get evidence tested for DNA that includes the knives used as murder weapons. 

David Protess of the Innocence Project has been following the Hank Skinner story - as well as the importance of DNA testing in death penalty cases - for awhile now.  For details on the Skinner case and this latest ruling's impact, read his article at the Huffington Post. 

Meanwhile, more and more attention is being given to the actions of a series of prosecutors in the Hank Skinner matter and their apparent blindspot on justice insofar as testing DNA evidence in this case. 

What happens to the prosecutors?  It's not clear - first things first is getting Skinner's DNA testing requests approved and testing done.  Moreover, assuming that Skinner is proven an innocent man it's also not clear what the ramifications of that reality will be on the district attorneys who made decisions in this case.

Perhaps the best news today, other than the stay of execution of course, is the fact that more and more questions are being asked of the propriety of actions and attitudes of the prosecutors in this case (and hopefully, in every death penalty case). 

Are they concerned with justice or are they concerned with politics or sadly, building a winning track record at trial? 

 

 

 

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