In a ruling Monday which could affect law enforcement in Wichita Falls, Texas, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Texas death row inmate Hank Skinner may have DNA testing done on evidence which his attorney advised against testing for his jury trial.
Skinner’s attorney advised his client to not request the testing of certain pieces of evidence at trial because the results might make him look guilty. Since he was found guilty anyway, he of course now wants them tested.
Some lawyers in Wichita Falls suggested Tuesday this decision might lead to other Death Row inmates using the same strategy in the future. Don’t test the evidence before trial because it may link the client to a murder. Then, if the client is convicted, request the evidence be tested.
This could result in the appeals process becoming even slower than it already is.
The highest court in the land voted 6-3 to allow Skinner further testing of the same evidence he didn’t wanted tested at his trial.
Skinner’s attorneys now are requesting vaginal swabs from the victim be tested.
This is the second time the Supreme Court has acted to save Skinner’s life. Last year he was within an hour of having a lethal dose injected into his veins when the justices intervened and stopped the scheduled execution.
The ruling this week guarantees Skinner’s appeals will drag on for several more years.
Skinner was convicted of bludgeoning to death his girlfriend Twila Busby, 40, and stabbing to death her two sons by a Texas jury. The jury believed the evidence was strong enough to recommend the ultimate punishment almost two decades ago.
Law enforcement officials found Skinner hiding in a closet at another female friend’s house covered in the blood of two of his alleged victims. A trail of blood from the crime scene led police a few blocks to the house in which Skinner was hiding.
John Brasher, who has handled several appeals successfully which were ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court from Wichita Falls, has researched thoroughly the issues involved. The Wichita County District Attorney’s Office has done DNA testing after trials before at the request of defense counsel who are appealing convictions. Not a single case of this nature has resulted in a reversal from Wichita Falls.
Maureen Shelton is in the third month of her first four-year term as the first female District Attorney in the history of Wichita Falls.
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