Texas Death Chamber:
Death row inmate gets execution stay, amid requests for DNA testing
Skinner: "How do you reconcile possibly dying for something that you didn't do?"
Dawn Tongish The 33 News
November 7, 2011
DALLAS, TX— For nearly two decades, locked away on Texas death row, Hank Skinner has proclaimed that he is not a killer.
"I think about it every day. How do you reconcile possibly dying for something that you didn't do?"
Skinner was scheduled to die Wednesday, but late Monday a Texas court granted a stay so his attorneys can pursue more DNA testing.
In 1995, a Tarrant County jury found Skinner guilty of beating his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby to death in their panhandle home and stabbing to death her two grown sons. Skinner claimed he was unconscious on the sofa, intoxicated on a mix of vodka and drugs. But, police found his blood at the gruesome crime scene.
Prosecutors have maintained through the years, that Skinner is the killer. They have fought repeated requests by Skinner to perform DNA tests on evidence found at the scene, including a rape kit, bloody knives and material under the victim's fingernails.
Most recently, Skinner applied for a fourth time for testing under an expanded DNA testing law that took effect in Texas in September. Some lawmakers believe his situation does qualify him for post-conviction DNA tests, but the Attorney General's office has fought the request. Last week, a judge denied the request, but Skinner's lawyers appealed.
"Everything should be tested," SMU professor, Rick Halperin said.
Halperin, who opposes the death penalty believes opponents of the testing don't want any flaws in the system to be revealed.
"If the evidence raises doubt, it will put the state in the worst possible light."
Texas has some of the strongest post-conviction DNA laws in the country. Under the statutes, 45 innocent men have been exonerated. But there have been concerns the system could also be abused by inmates who request too many tests, that may ultimately be meaningless.
"Even if there is a test it doesn't always produce a result that will exonerate or clear someone accused of a crime," former prosecutor, Toby Shook said.