FEATURED POST

A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof

Image
“What are you?” a member of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston asked at the trial of the white man who killed eight of her fellow black parishioners and their pastor. “What kind of subhuman miscreant could commit such evil?... What happened to you, Dylann?”
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spent months in South Carolina searching for an answer to those questions—speaking with Roof’s mother, father, friends, former teachers, and victims’ family members, all in an effort to unlock what went into creating one of the coldest killers of our time.
Sitting beside the church, drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, he thought he had to go in and shoot them.
They were a small prayer group—a rising-star preacher, an elderly minister, eight women, one young man, and a little girl. But to him, they were a problem. He believed that, as black Americans, they were raping “our women and are taking over our country.” So he took out his Glock handgun and calmly, while their eyes were closed in prayer, ope…

Texas: DNA in Hank Skinner case to get new analysis

The long court fight over DNA testing for death row inmate Hank Skinner grew lengthier Wednesday when the state’s highest criminal court ordered that a new analysis be performed on DNA tests that may have produced questionable results.

The ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals was the latest response to a notice, sent last year by the FBI, alerting members of the criminal justice system about potential mistakes in the way DNA matches were calculated in samples that included DNA from multiple people.

The process, known as “DNA mixture interpretation,” produced results that could overstate the reliability of a match, which is typically presented as accurate to within a minuscule fraction of a percent, the FBI warned last May.

Skinner, sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of girlfriend Twila Busby and her two adult sons in the Panhandle city of Pampa, had long pressed for DNA testing that was not available during his 1995 trial, saying the results would bolster claims that he was too incapacitated by alcohol and codeine to have beaten Busby and stabbed her sons to death.

However, tests on blood found on a knife recovered from the scene showed Skinner’s DNA mixed with that of Busby’s sons — Elwin Caler, 22, and Randy Busby, 20. Along with other DNA tests, the findings prompted state District Judge Steven Emmert to rule that the new results would not have been enough to change jurors’ minds about Skinner’s guilt.

Skinner’s lawyers challenged the judge’s interpretation of the DNA results, telling the Court of Criminal Appeals in a November 2014 filing that the findings undermined key aspects of the prosecution’s theory of the murders.

But while the court was weighing Skinner’s latest appeal, the FBI issued its memo on DNA mixtures, prompting the Texas Forensic Science Commission to advise prosecutors and defense lawyers to have such DNA results reassessed so a new match probability could be calculated.

Hank Skinner
Hank Skinner
The Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab announced last year that it had stopped using DNA mixture standards, in place since 1999. DPS also agreed to issue new findings in Skinner’s test results but first needed to rewrite laboratory procedures and acquire specialized software, according to court records.

The new lab procedures will begin March 18, DPS said Wednesday.

In its 8-1 ruling Wednesday, the Court of Criminal Appeals returned Skinner’s appeal to the trial court to “ensure that the recalculation is performed in a timely manner” and ordered the judge to submit new conclusions, if warranted, about the meaning of the test results.

The appeals court also said it wanted the matter resolved within 90 days but indicated that the deadline could be extended.

“They’re willing to let DPS take the time they need to accommodate us with the other cases they’re obviously going to be looking at as well,” said Rob Owen, Skinner’s lawyer and a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Source: American-Statesman, Chuck Lindell, March 10, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Marcellus Williams faces execution in Missouri despite doubts about conviction

Georgia executes Emmanuel Hammond

Vietnam upholds death sentences against shipping execs in major corruption case

As Sammantha Allen Heads for Death Row, Will Arizona Execute a Woman Again?

Damien Echols says he suffered brain injuries on death row, his wife calls for end to executions

France condemns Iran execution of juvenile offender Alireza Tajiki

Florida set to conduct its first execution in a year and a half

Missouri governor stays execution of Marcellus Williams after attorneys say DNA evidence exonerates him

Most American Indian tribes opt out of federal death penalty

Malaysia postpones execution of Filipino on death row