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."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
MORE Death Penalty
Death Watch: Madness and Forensics
Death Watch: Madness and Forensics
Two capital cases raise psychological and evidentiary issues

Jordan Smith, Oct. 4, 2013

Death Watch: Running Low on Poison
Death Watch: Running Low on Poison
The state of Texas has three executions' worth of pentobarbitol

Jordan Smith, Aug. 9, 2013

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

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

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle