Skinner Will Get DNA Testing

AG's office reverses course

Hank Skinner
Hank Skinner

With Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott finally on board, death row inmate Hank Skinner will finally get DNA testing he's been requesting for more than a decade.

Today the AG's office reversed its stance and has decided to agree to DNA testing of key evidence in the capital murder case against Hank Skinner, who was sentenced to die for the murder of his girlfriend Twila Busby and her two sons in the home they shared in Pampa.

The decision comes almost a exactly a month after Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell argued before the Court of Criminal Appeals that Skinner should be denied the ability to test key evidence – including a bloody windbreaker stained with sweat with two hairs clinging to it that was found near Busby's body. The problem, Mitchell argued in part, was that to allow Skinner access to testing would only incentivize other defendants charged with capital murder to forgo evidence testing at trial in order to further post-conviction appeals. To put it mildly, Mitchell's arguments before the CCA were unpersuasive, and court observers said they believed a CCA ruling in Skinner's favor was more than likely.

But the AG's office has cut that process short by agreeing today that Skinner should be able to submit for DNA analysis the previously untested evidence. "Until now, the State has opposed Skinner's request for DNA testing and argued to affirm the trial court's ruling on appeal," reads the AG's court filing. "Upon further consideration, the State believes that the interest of justice would best be served in this case by DNA testing the evidence requested by Skinner and by testing additional items identified by the State."

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Hank Skinner, death penalty, DNA testing, Greg Abbott, Jonathan Mitchell, Court of Criminal Appeals, courts, capital punishment

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