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article imageOp-Ed: Will the State of Texas execute an innocent man?

By Alexander Baron     Nov 5, 2011 in Crime
Pampa - Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia in the face of worldwide protests. Troy Davis was guilty; Hank Skinner may not be, but as things stand, he dies three days from now.
Yeah, we've heard it all before: not me judge, circumstantial evidence, witnesses recanting, but this time it's different. Henry Watkins Skinner was convicted of the December 1993 triple murder of his girlfriend and her two grown sons. They were all three killed in a most gruesome manner at the home in Pampa, Texas, that Skinner shared with the two young men and the older Twila Busby.
As with convicted, executed and guilty murderer Troy Davis, there are two Hank Skinners, the one who was convicted by due process, and the other who is a victim of biased justice - although unlike Davis, Skinner is white. The reader is invited to view both these personas - the guilty Skinner - and the innocent Skinner. What stands between them? A DNA test.
It is quite likely that Skinner is a lying sonofabitch as well as a cold-blooded killer, indeed, the law says that is the case. Skinner has already been within an hour of execution, in March last year.
There is though a big difference between Skinner and Troy Davis; while Davis shot a man dead in a crowded parking lot, no one saw Skinner murder three people, there is evidence, albeit not the strongest evidence, that at the material time he was in no state to murder one person much less three, and on top of that, Skinner has asked for - and been denied - a DNA test.
Again, it may be that as with Davis, this claim is all smoke and mirrors. It remains to be seen why the particular items in question have not been tested for DNA. In Britain, this would have been mandatory regardless of any objections by either the prosecution or the defence, certainly in a case of this gravity.
Again, it may be this is all smoke and mirrors, but what will be the response if Skinner is executed on Wednesday as scheduled, then another man's DNA is found where it shouldn't be on Twila Busby?
If anyone thinks that can't happen, they should remember the case of Stefan Kiszko, who was convicted of a murder before the advent of DNA testing, primarily on the basis of a confession that had been extracted from this vulnerable man by unscrupulous police officers. By the time the case came to trial, the police, the prosecuting barrister and the forensic scientist in question, had irrefutable forensic evidence that Stefan Kiszko was not the murderer of eleven year old Lesley Molseed, yet they suppressed it, an innocent man was convicted, and spent sixteen years in Hell before the truth outed.
Guilty or innocent, Hank Skinner has himself been in Hell for more than sixteen years; if the State of Texas is so certain of his guilt, what has it to lose by granting him this one last request? Furthermore, if it turns out that Skinner is the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice, what will China, Iran, and all those other terrible places where the innocent are subjected to arbitrary arrest and execution say about the Lone Star State, and the land of the free and the home of the brave?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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