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The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended the execution of Hank Skinner just an hour before his scheduled execution through lethal injection, yesterday.
The 47-year-old man had never admitted to the triple murder that he was convicted for in 1995 and has always demanded new DNA tests.
However, the suspension of the execution only buys time for Skinner and his lawyer as a new date will be set.
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.
Originally posted by Maddogkull
If the guy wants DNA tests I say give them to him. If they come back positive, let him rot.
But as another execution date looms, pressure is mounting on Texas officials to grant Skinner's long-standing request to have crime-scene DNA tested before it's too late. "Executing Mr. Skinner without testing all the relevant evidence would suggest official indifference to the possibility of error in this case and needlessly undermine public confidence in Texas's criminal justice system," said a letter from former Texas Gov. Mark White and 16 other current and former Texas lawmakers, prosecutors and judges, dated October 27 and sent to Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Gray County District Attorney Lynn Switzer.
Skinner, 49, was convicted of the New Year's Eve 1993 killings of his 41-year-old live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa. He is set to die Wednesday.
He has strongly denied any involvement in the crime and claims that the DNA analysis of untested evidence will prove his innocence and help determine the real killer.
"All the district attorney has got to do is turn over the evidence and test it, and let the chips fall where they may," Skinner told CNN's Kate Bolduan in 2009 in an interview from death row at the Polunsky Correctional Institution in Livingston, Texas. "If I'm innocent, I go home. If I'm guilty, I die. What's so hard about that?"
On Thursday, the Texas trial court denied Skinner's latest motion asking to have the crime scene items tested.
New Year's Eve, 1993
On New Years Eve, 1993, Hank and Twila were preparing for their New Year's celebrations at their home in Pampa, Texas. Hank had returned from working at his motor business at about 3:30pm and asked Ms. Busby's twenty-two year old son, Elwin [Scooter] Caler to go and buy some vodka. Hank and Twila began their celebrations early that year. Hank consciously took a cocktail of Xanax pills and alcohol. Additionally, he was also subjected to a near lethal dose of codeine and passed out some time before 10:15pm, when Howard Mitchell, a close friend of both Hank and Twila, arrived to drive them both to attend his New Year's party.
Howard attempted to rouse Hank from his stupor. From Mitchell's affidavit of August 1994 - "When I got there, Mr. Skinner was laying on the couch asleep, and there was a large bottle of vodka on the coffee table. I grabbed Mr. Skinner's arm about five times. I got no reaction from Mr. Skinner - he was out cold."
Mitchell and Twila then left to attend the party. Testimony was given at the original trial explaining why Twila left that party early. From the "Statement of Testimony At Trial" [filed as part of the Direct Appeal brief and listing the testimonial evidence originally presented at court]:
"[Testimony was given that] Mitchell and Twila left the appellant alone in the house and drove to Mitchell's trailer where a party was in progress. Twila's uncle, Robert Donnell, got very drunk at the party. Donnell was a big man with a hot temper who carried a knife in the trunk of his car. He had used force to collect a drug debt from a woman and sexually molested a young girl when she was asleep. Donnell followed Twila around at the party as if he was stalking her and made rude sexual advances. Twila became agitated and asked Mitchell to take her home."