November 3, 2011 Leave a comment
Soon another Texas death-row inmate will be put to death, Hank Skinner is one week from death. Despite Extremely Significant evidence that has Never been tested during his trial or sentencing in 1995. This coupled with the fact that Skinner’s legal team has been trying to have this DNA evidence tested for over a decade and they will pay All of the Costs for said testing.
The evidence in question that has never been tested includes a rape kit taken from the mother-Twila Busby-who was murdered on December 31, 1993 in Pampa, Texas along with her two adult sons, Randy Busby and Elwin Caler. Other items never tested, Blood from the murder weapon, scrapings from Twila’s fingernails, blood from a jacket found in the home. As well as hairs, found clutched in Twila’s hand that likely came from her killer.
Even though the inmate’s legal team have been trying to just get the evidence, pay for the testing at No-Cost to Texas. The Texas 31st District Attorney’s office has Refused their request for over ten years.
The attorneys for Mr. Skinner are only trying to test evidence that the state of Texas should have tested themselves, however they did not.
Also Toxicology experts have stated that upon the night of the murder Mr. Skinner had to high a concentration of drugs in his system to have been able to commit the murders for which he will soon be Executed.
Northwestern University Medill Innocence Project students (They are ANGELS on Earth) became involved with his case in 1999. Skinner’s former neighbor and ex-girlfriend told the students that the police had coerced her into giving false statements. She further stated that she no longer would stand by her previous statements.
There was further evidence as well during this period, before her death Mrs. Twila Busby’s said she was being stalked by an uncle. Mrs. Busby had also confided to friends before her death that the uncle had raped her all of this around the period before her life was taken.
Furthermore it had been established that the Uncle had met and talked with Mrs. Busby at a party the night of her death. There were also reports that neighbors had witnessed him cleaning and repairing his trucks in the days following the murders. The Uncle had also been seen wearing a wind-breaker that was similar to one found at the crime scene. Unfortunately the uncle died in an accident in 1997, he was never questioned by the state, why?
While one witness recanting of testimony could be quite possibly be dismissed and disregarded the cumulative evidence could not be by a justice system interested in truth and justice.
There was also a popular national television show, during an appearance during which a Medill Professor asked for and the current (at that time) District Attorney agreed to test the hairs found clutched in Twila’s hand the deceased mother. However when the evidence was preliminarily tested and the results were showing that the hairs probably did not belong to Mr. Skinner the testing was stopped nor was any of the other evidence which had the possibility of seeing the light of day yet the testing would Never be performed.
The additional witness testimony was Never reviewed numerous pieces of evidence were never tested. The thought process is that the District Attorney only zeroed in on Mr. Skinner gathered the evidence they thought they needed and won their conviction.
While the laws of Texas do have the right for the defendant to request DNA testing that might prove their innocence. The state has maintained that Mr. Skinner could have asked for the testing during his trial and because he did not during his trial they have fought for 10 years to deny him testing that might prove his innocence or his guilt.
There is also another problem Mr. Skinner in Fact had Requested the testing at his trial. However his court appointed representative decided against this even though his client the defendant had requested the testing.
The Court Appointed defense attorney was a former prosecutor who had lost his job after being caught stealing money during a drug seizure case. The trial judge was reported to be a friend of the former disgraced prosecutor and assigned the case to him. He also stipulated that the now Court Appointed defense lawyer be paid around the same amount the attorney owed the state of Texas for his previous prosecutorial misconduct.
The Supreme Court of the USA granted a stay last year as to whether federal civil rights laws would allow Mr. Skinner to contest Texas’s interpretation of their own state law. In March of last year the Supreme Court did rule in Mr. Skinner’s favor, however the testing was not ordered. Rather the Supreme Court only ruled that Mr. Skinner had the right to press for testing via the misinterpretation
However the legislature for the state of Texas negated any action as they passed a revision to the existing DNA law in regards to testing. The Senate and House of the Texas legislature passed the revision with few if any dissenting votes. The new revision allows for a defendant to request testing even if their court appointed attorney requested it or not. Mr. Skinner was even referenced during the legislative process it finally looked as though Hank Skinner was going to get his day in court.
Now Mr. Skinner having been imprisoned since 1995 would either have his guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt or he would be exonerated and released. At the very least all of the appropriate evidence Expected to be tested during a capital murder trial would finally see the light of day. Lady Liberty would hold the scales of Justice and Hank Skinner would finally receive a fair and impartial finding of guilt or innocence.
The revised law was enacted on September 1, 2011 and Mr. Skinner’s Attorneys promptly filed for testing. However the State Attorney instead of granting the testing instead asked for an execution date and it was approved. Instead of the testing that had been requested for over ten years and the fact that the state of Texas would not have to pay for it, Mr. Skinner was scheduled for execution November 9th, 2011.
Now with little time to spare Mr. Skinner’s fate rests with the Texas state court which has his petition under review. There is also a federal court involved which is still holding Mr. Skinner’s testing claim open in the event the state court rules against him or takes no action at all. Yet with a state and federal court involved Mr. Skinner could still face Death come November 9th 2011.
Should Mr. Skinner be executed his guilt or innocence would never be proven as the State Attorney would more than likely destroy the DNA evidence upon his execution.
Even as dire a situation as this is there are still other outcomes that could occur. The Texas Governor Rick Perry could issue a 30 day stay to allow for testing or the trial judge could delay the execution. Also the Federal or State court could issue a stay.
However the judicial system moves at a snail’s pace and Mr. Skinner could still be executed by lethal injection on November 9th, 2011.
Since the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976 Texas has executed more inmates than any other state. It’s worth noting that the states of Florida and California both have higher death row inmate populations. However no other state in the union can touch the execution record of the great state of Texas.
Just looking at the rate of Complete Exoneration of death row inmates in Illinois thanks to the efforts of the Professors and Students at the Northwestern University School of Law is a cause for concern.
On June 29th 1972 the Supreme Court voided all state death penalty laws, saying they were racially discriminatory and haphazard, yet the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Currently as of March 2011 the following states no longer have the death penalty; Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin as well as The District of Columbia and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
Cases all across the USA have been dismissed, inmates exonerated and released after extended periods of time with many receiving significant payment from various states.
The reasons for exoneration are numerous and profoundly disturbing not only for the innocent defendants wrongly jailed. It is horrid experience for the wrongly jailed as well as the families of the deceased who are given a false sense of closure.
Prosecutorial misconduct, Law enforcement witness intimidation, misstatements (or outright lies), Forensic labs working with the prosecution to match the courts case versus objective testing. Tampering with or withholding evidence, failure to test pertinent evidence, obstruction and collusion.
Since 1992 Fifteen inmates have been released thanks to DNA testing which is only available to a fraction of death row inmates. The Death Penalty Information Center list 8 inmates executed but possibly innocent. Another figure says that 39 inmates have been executed wrongfully in the USA.
In these United States of America, Ray Krone has the distinction of being the 100th former death row inmate sentenced to death however later exonerated (note later statistical data). Then there is Kirk Bloodsworth who was the first to be released from death row thanks to the use of DNA testing. There are currently over 3000 inmates on death row being housed.
During 1994 80% of the U.S population favored the death penalty as of 2011 a Gallup poll showed this had declined to 61% with 35% opposing it. However when the options of Life Imprisonment without possibility of parole versus the death penalty the figures change considerably with 49% favoring death and 46% favoring life this from a 2010 Gallup poll.
So one question should be do we as a nation prefer to execute even 1 Innocent U.S. Citizen so that we can have a death penalty. The USA already imprisons more of its citizens then any other industrialized nation. 1 in 100 of our population are currently in prison and the ratio only gets worse, however current economic conditions are changing the models for some states such as California. Approximately 2 Million U.S. citizens are now housed in some form be it Federal, State, County, City etc. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics as of 2009 over 7.2 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at year-end — 3.1% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 32 adults.
How many times have we gotten it wrong for other crimes, how many of these human beings have been found guilty and are currently in jail.
Unfortunately jails will always be needed for crimes against children, elderly or women are particularly disturbing. As for the death penalty there are to many chances for justice to wrongly judge if only 1 inmate who is innocent is executed it’s too much.
What was done to Twila Busby and her son’s Randy Busby and Elwin Caler was despicable. Nothing can bring these souls back nor the scores of others who have been murdered in our country.
Hopefully Hank Skinner for better or worse will at least be given the opportunity to Finally have the evidence in his case tested before he is executed.
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