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Legal question RE: Texas V. Henry "Hank" Skinner?

November 16th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ok, I have been following this case lately and basically this man was arrested in 1993 and brought up on three homicide charges in the deaths of his then-live-in girlfriend and her two adult-age sons. From day one, Skinner has shouted from the roof-tops that he is innocent, but he was convicted and received The Death Penalty. Originally, his death sentence was scheduled to be carried out on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 (so in just a couple of days from this posting.) However, there was a petition circulated on Change.org, and some former attorneys, judges, and politicians from Texas wrote letters to the present-day Governor of Texas asking they (at least temporarily) forego this execution while the fight to save this potentially innocent man’s life continues. Apparently, the prosecutor from the DA’s Office assigned to this case did NOT request DNA testing on every piece of evidence (s)he could have, which included a victim’s RAPE KIT for God’s Sake! Now, I won’t pretend to be a legal expert, or a cop or anything, but I’ve seen far too many episodes of Law & Order: SVU to know that’s one of the FIRST THINGS you take to the crime lab for DNA testing so you make sure you’re busting the right "perp." Now, for the last TEN YEARS OR MORE, Skinner and his attorney have been submitting official requests to the DA’s Office asking that they go through the evidence and whatever wasn’t DNA tested before or during the trial, be DNA tested now because it very well could prove Skinner’s oft-repeated claim of innocence is true. The DA’s Office keeps denying the requests, saying something to the effect that if they wanted EVERYTHING that could have been DNA tested to be DNA tested, they should have asked that it all be DNA tested either before the case went to trial, or at the latest during the trial, but after the trial is over and the defendant is sentenced is too late. Now, again, I’m no lawyer or judge, or legal expert – far from it, actually, but this SCREAMS of Prosecutorial Misconduct to me. To me, this is the equivalent of denial of a fair trial AND denial of Due Process of Law. IMO, they need to hold off on the execution until EVERYTHING is DNA tested, and while waiting, Skinner should be in Gen Pop, or even P.C. not Death Row. If he’s wrong about the DNA vindicating him, or knowingly, flat-out lied about it and he really was the murderer of these three, then don’t delay the execution any further – proceed IMMEDIATELY as soon as the DNA results are in, IMO. However, if he’s right and the DNA shows it wasn’t him, he’s been in prison far too long for an innocent man, so he would deserve to be released right then and there as soon as the DNA cleared him. So, am I right though? Does this sound like a case of Prosecutorial Misconduct? Does a DA/Prosecutor have the right to decide which evidence does or does NOT get DNA tested or which evidence they have that will/won’t be presented during a trial? Does a DA/Prosecutor have the right to tell a potentially innocent Prison Inmate asking for evidence DNA tests, "Sorry man you should have asked for these DNA tests before the trial."? I just want to smack the crap out of this Prosecuting Attorney – it sounds a lot like he cares more about his win/loss record than whether or not he’s got the correct "bad guy" in prison.
Susan S: Thanks. I agree. Someone needs to step in and b**ch smack the Prosecuting Attorney and Judge for letting this farce go on. There is NO harm in running the DNA tests even after the trial. If it proves him innocent, he goes home, if it proves him guilty, he’s dead in 3 days as planned. Just test the damn DNA! I would think it would be worth it to make sure they don’t bump off an innocent man. These people standing in the way of justice need to be dis-barred and jailed for being so stubborn and refusing to process all of the evidence!
@dudleysharp: you raise a few valid points and a compelling argument. I wonder though, if you’re right, why they wait now until about a week before his scheduled execution to go public on Change.org (supposedly falsely) claiming all of this and saying they’ve been practically BEGGING for this other evidence to be tested when apparently they asked for it NOT to be tested before the trial started? And why is it that the information I’m reading on this is saying that when the family asked for the rest of it to be tested after the trial the prosecution said no, making the prosecutor look bad, rather than saying the defendant asked for it not to be tested, making the defendant look more and more suspicious and more and more guilty? Something’s not adding up here. I wish I knew the truth – a potentially innocent man’s life is at stake.

Apparently the same local court where he was originally tried has turned down the latest request to test DNA. If he is executed this week (as scheduled) we will never know if Texas got the right person. I believe this is indefensible- and that even death penalty supporters would want to know for sure.

  1. Susan S
    November 16th, 2011 at 07:37 | #1

    Apparently the same local court where he was originally tried has turned down the latest request to test DNA. If he is executed this week (as scheduled) we will never know if Texas got the right person. I believe this is indefensible- and that even death penalty supporters would want to know for sure.
    References :

  2. dudleysharp
    November 16th, 2011 at 08:03 | #2


    You have, simply, been fooled by anti death penalty activists. Happens all the time.

    The Guilt of Texas death row inmate Henry "Hank" Skinner
    Dudley Sharp

    cc: to hundreds in the media and many others

    Skinner confessed and the confession was deemed inadmissible, but is part of the appellate record.

    The defenses claim is that a completely incapacitated Skinner, somehow, traveled the 4 blocks from the murder scene, went to his ex girlfriends house, hid in her closet and he was covered in blood from the crime scene.

    Skinner’s own blood spatter expert found that Skinner’s "passed out" story was inconsistent with the blood being all over Skinner.

    Skinner’s defense is that he was completely incapacitated the night of the murders, a defense which is contradicted by his confession, by the blood spatter evidence and by his travels to his ex girlfriend’s house?

    Why did Skinner chose to walk the 4 blocks to his ex girlfriends house, instead of calling the police?

    Skinner refused additional DNA testing because he was implicated by the prior, multiple DNA tests, pre trial, that tied him to the crime scene and he didn’t want more DNA to hurt his case.

    The only reason for such denial of additional DNA testing is that Skinner knew additional DNA evidence would harm him even more.

    Skinner, his defense counsel and other death penalty opponents are saying that the untested DNA will prove Skinner innocent, meaning that Skinner decided, pre trial, that it was better to face a death sentence than to face freedom, the only "logic" for Skinner’s refusal of the additional DNA testing, when he "knew" it would prove his innocence. Absurd, of course.

    Could this just be another anti death penalty fraud?

    Why not test the additional DNA?

    What Texas is attempting to prevent, now, in testing the additional DNA that Skinner refused to test, pre trial, is a very bad precedent, to wit:

    In a successful effort to delay his execution, even more, Skinner files motions to test the DNA material he had previously rejected testing, pre trial.

    If Skinner succeeds, this sets a precedent that, within certain cases, which can be managed, just so, the defendant will be able to go back and say, wait a minute, I don’t like the outcome of my trial, because of the strategy I chose, I want a do-over, via new trial or appeals, so maybe I can get a better result next time.

    It is a horrible precedent, which the state must fight and for which all criminals, defense counsel and their supporters are drooling over, both for very good and obvious reasons.

    Some in the media, inexcusably, are not presenting those facts to their readers

    The false innocence claims by anti death penalty activists are legendary. Some examples:

    4) "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"

    5) The 130 (now 138) death row "innocents" scam

    6) Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review"

    7) "At the Death House Door" Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?"

    8) "Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown", A Collection of Articles
    References :

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