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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Agreement on DNA testing in Skinner case, but "key" evidence missing

Henry 'Hank' Skinner
DNA testing of evidence in the Henry Skinner triple murder case hit yet another snag this week as prosecutors admitted that a blood-stained windbreaker – termed "perhaps the key piece of evidence" by the killer's lawyer – cannot be found.

In a motion laying out terms of a joint agreement to begin testing filed late Tuesday, the state and Skinner attorney Rob Owen identify 40 items to be submitted for testing. Among them are clippings from a victim's fingernails, vaginal swabs, and knives found at the scene of the 1993 New Year's Eve Pampa murder.

Prosecutors in Tuesday's filing concede that the windbreaker, collected from the scene by the Pampa Police Department, has not been found.

"According to the state, every other single piece of evidence in this case has been preserved," Owen said in an email. To date, the state has offered no explanation for its failure to safeguard evidence in this case."

Owen said the jacket, which appears to be stained with perspiration and blood, may have been worn by the assailant. Owen said that, since the trial, a witness has identified the jacket as one worn by Busby's uncle.

That man, now dead, reportedly was seen stalking [the female victim] at a party shortly before her murder.

Skinner has endeavored for more than a decade to obtain DNA testing of seemingly important evidence gathered at the crime scene.


Source: Houston Chronicle, June 13, 2012

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