BREAKING: Today’s Planned Texecution STAYED!!

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

UPDATE: 6:20 pm EDT:  The Innocence Project reports that the US Supreme Court has issued a stay that prevents the execution of Hank Skinner.



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Hank Skinner

Texas plans to kill death row prisoner Hank Skinner by lethal injection today.  Even though DNA from the crime scene has never been tested, and even though Skinner has insisted for more than sixteen years that he is innocent, Texas plans today to have its inexorable revenge against Skinner for a triple homicide.  Stopping the execution now so that DNA testing can be conducted depends on long shots: Texas Governor Rick Perry and last minute appeals to the Supreme Court.  

The New York Times reports:

Texas death row inmate Hank Skinner doesn’t deny he was in the house where his girlfriend was fatally bludgeoned and her two adult sons stabbed to death in 1993, but he insists that DNA testing could exonerate him.

Skinner, scheduled to die Wednesday in Huntsville for the New Year’s Eve triple slaying more than 16 years ago, visited with his French-born wife as he waited for the U.S. Supreme Court or Texas Gov. Rick Perry to decide whether to stop his execution.

He and his attorneys contend his lethal injection should be halted for DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene in the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa. Results of those tests could support his innocence claims, they said.

”It’s real scary,” Skinner, 47, said recently from death row. ”I’ve had dreams about being injected. I didn’t commit this crime and I should be exonerated.”

Prosecutors and the Texas Courts have insisted that Skinner isn’t entitled to DNA testing of evidence that was not tested before his 1995 trial.  His appointed lawyer inexplicably didn’t demand it before trial. The remaining evidence in question will probably reveal whether Skinner or another man committed the murders for which Skinner was convicted.

Testing this evidence is important if Texas wants to be sure that it is not (again) killing an innocent person.  The amount of evidence is not large; a DNA testing lab has agreed to conduct the testing for free.  If testing does not show that Skinner is innocent, there would be slight reason to disturb his conviction.  On the other hand, if the testing exonerates Skinner, he should clearly be spared and released from confinement.

What is the role of this physical evidence in this case?  Dave Lindorff explains:

The thing about Skinner’s case is it would be relatively easy to prove whether or not he was really the killer of the three. There are two bloody knives that have never been tested for Skinner’s DNA–or for the DNA of Twila’s uncle, the man who had reportedly made several unwanted sexual advances at her earlier that evening, leading her to leave a party early, and who Skinner claims is the real killer. Nor was semen that was found on Twila Busby, who was raped, or skin found under her fingernails, ever DNA tested to see who they belonged to.

There were, to be sure, plenty of circumstantial reasons at the time of the trial to suspect Skinner. It is undisputed that he had been drunk and passed out on the couch in Busby’s house shortly before the murders, which occurred in the same room he was in. The drunken Skinner also staggered from the home in Pampa, TX, his hands bloodied, following the killings. But Skinner maintains that he had cut his hand, falling off the couch, and that the blood was his own. He says he had woken up to find Busby and her sons already dead.

Incredibly, police investigators at the crime scene never took fingernail clippings from Busby, nor did they take a vaginal swab at the scene, though she had clearly struggled and had apparently been raped.

This physical evidence should be tested.  The execution, which has waited for more than sixteen years, can be delayed an additional few months so that testing can be completed.  If the physical evidence does not exonerate Skinner, claims that Texas is executing an innocent man should be diminished.

The important questions for Texas today are these: what is the rush?  Isn’t it more important after all of this time, to know the truth about Hank Skinner?  

Please sign this Innocence Project petition to Governor Perry.

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simulposted from The Dream Antilles and dailyKos

15 comments

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  1. I am opposed to state killing in all cases.  But that is not the issue in this case.  In this case the question is how far the state should go to assure that it does not kill someone who is innocent.

    Thank you for reading.  I will be gone for a few hours, but will return to respond to comments.  I apologize for this.

  2. Capital punishment in the United States seems to have evolved into a regional phenomenon.  When the template of the Old Confederacy is applied, here is the breakdown for executions in the United States, keeping in mind that the grand total for the entire United States in 2009 was 52, or one per week.

    For purposes of the following CSA stands for Confederate States of America.

    CSA seceding before Lincoln assumed office — 37

    (TX-24, AL-6, FL-3, GA-2, SC-2, LA & MS-0)

    CSA seceding shortly after battle at Ft. Sumter — 5

    (VA-3, TN-2, AR & NC-0)

    Dual governments — 1

    (MO-1, KY-0)

    Border states — 0

    (DE, MD, & WV-0)

    Territories claimed by CSA w/o formal secession) — 3

    (OK-3, AZ-0)

    States adjacent to CSA states — 6

    (OH-5, IN-1)

    All of the states where executions were carried out were those where the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney ticket prevailed in 2000 and 2004.  

    The states seceding prior to Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, were those in the deepest south, and the four that followed after Ft. Sumter all shared a common east-west border the the original seven.

    Texas had four times as many executions than any other state.

    Strangely enough, Michigan, one of the states profiled in Michael Moore’s film, “Bowling for Columbine” was the first English-speaking entity to abolish the death penalty, back in 1846.  

    The regional phenomenon mentioned earlier appears to have endured over time, since the death penalty across the United States was reinstated in 1976.  

    All states connected with the CSA in one form or another, with Ohio and Indiana added, since 1976, hold a commanding majority.  Of 1199 executed since 1976, Texas accounts for 451, which must be why it is also the safest state in the Union (or maybe not!).  

    Of the 1199 executed since 1976, those states within the CSA sphere is influence (adding in OH & IN) reveals the following breakdown:

    CSA & OH & IN    — 1132

    All other states —   67

    Of the fifteen states plus Washington, D.C. where the death penalty either doesn’t exist or has been declared constitutional, only two (AK & ND) went for Obama in 2008.

    Worldwide, according to a group that calls itself Hands off Cain, there were at least 5727 executions carried out in 26 countries in 2008.

    Of this number…

    China — At least   1700 to 5000

    Iran —  At least            346

    Saudi Arabia — At least     102

    North Korea — At least       63

    United States —              37

    Pakistan — At least          36

    Iraq — At least              34

    Vietnam — At least           19

    Afghanistan — At least       17

    Japan —                      15

    Yemen — At least             13

    Indonesia —                  10

    Libya — At least              8

    Sudan — At least              5

    Bangladesh —                  5  

    Belarus —                     4

    Somalia — At least            3

    Egypt — At least              2

    United Arab Emirates-at least  1

    Malaysia — At least           1

    Mongolia — At least           1

    Singapore — At least          1

    Syria — At least              1

    Bahrain —                     1

    Bottswana —                   1

    St. Kitts & Nevis —           1

    Please take a close look at the preceding list and consider:

    How many of those nations executing their own claim to be Christian nations (recognizing that I may not know enough about some of the smaller countries to be absolutely certain of their claimed status)?

    How many of those nations executing their own exist in the Western Hemisphere?

    It would appear that other than the United States, St. Kitts & Nevis stands as the sole exception with respect to the two preceding questions.

    Looking back to 2008, we may recall that there was a de facto moratorium on executions across the United States as the U. S. Supreme Court considered the matter of the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol used by the majority of death penalty states.  On April 16, 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the method used in Kentucky and several other states, including Texas, did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

    Given a later start that year, Texas accounted for 18 of 37 executions nationwide, and, in keeping with the phenomenon observed in 2009, all executions occurred within the block of states falling within the CSA plus Ohio and Indiana sphere.

    Of the 18 executed in Texas in 2008, nine were African American, six white and three Hispanic.

    Had Texas and their governor, Goodhair Perry earlier realized their dream of seceding from the union and becoming their own separate country, the United States (sans Texas) would have tied with Vietnam for 8th place in the world, followed closely by Texas, holding down the #9 position.

    A listing of executions by nation appears on the following list from 2009.  Again, it appears that the United States stands alone in the Western Hemisphere.

    If executions from the aforementioned list were broken down for the United States (sans Texas) and Texas as a stand alone country, those two entities would rank 5th and 6th in the world, respectively.

    We do have much to consider.

  3. I read about  this a few days ago, & at the time, I felt like there would be no objection to a DNA test, especially  with a life in the balance.

    I just had not notice the state of Texas in the mix.

    Perry distanced himself from a decision the last time an innocent man was executed.

    It`s strange that they proclaim themselves to be “right to life” christians, but seem to forget about that theme once one is born.

  4. I am relieved.  I applaud the efforts of Skinner’s lawyers.  What a super job under unbelievable pressure.

  5. Signed!

    Relieved!  

  6. The largest mass execution in the United States was conducted, perhaps ironically, during Abraham Lincoln’s Administration, in the aftermath of what was referred to as the Sioux Uprising, when 38 Dakota people (aka Sioux Indians) were executed simultaneously in Mankato, Minnesota. This execution was held on December 26, 1862. A historical marker has been placed at the site, which is next to the city library building, near the Minnesota River.

    According to some accounts, the four-sided platform fell in response to a single blow of an axe that temporarily held it in place.  For one of the condemned, the rope broke, which was restrung and following a very brief reprieve, that person was rehung.

    This was an additional stain on the history of our country during what was already an extremely dark time.

    Here is a depiction of the debacle…

    site on 38 Dakota hanging Mankato Pictures, Images and Photos

    • dkmich on March 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    on anyone that it can be used for or agin…. Justice, yepper.  Bush loves justice.  Everybody else, not so muchy.  Perry is going to off the guy.   I’ll sign, but I doubt any of it will matter.   I’d rather give Texas back to Mexico.  While we’re at it, they can have Mississippi and Alabama and Kentucky and Louisiana. Did I miss one?  Oh yes, Tenneesee and all the Virginias and Carolinas.

    Remember this?   It sounds better than every.

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    • Temmoku on March 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    also have better Health Care for their population.  

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