NEW VOICES: Former Judges, Prosecutors, and Elected Officials Call for DNA Testing and Stay of Texas Execution

On October 27, a group of former Texas judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers delivered a letter to Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and District Attorney Lynn Switzer requesting DNA tests for death row inmate Hank Skinner.  Signatories to the letter include: Mark White, former Governor of Texas (pictured); Morris L. Overstreet, former Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Sam Millsap, former Bexar County District Attorney; Kenneth J. Mighell, former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; Earl D. Musick, former Lieutenant of the Houston Police Department; and Rodney Ellis, curremt State Senator.  Skinner is scheduled to be executed on November 9 despite the fact that key pieces of DNA evidence in his case have never been tested.  Skinner has court decisions pending in both federal and state courts, but his execution has not been stayed.  The authors of the letter expressed “grave and growing concerns about the State’s stubborn refusal to date to test all the evidence in the Skinner case. Executing Mr. Skinner without testing all the relevant evidence would suggest official indifference to the possibility of error in this case and needlessly undermine public confidence in Texas’s criminal justice system.”  The letter concluded, “There is simply no justifiable reason why Texas continues to waste taxpayer dollars in its decade-long fight to prevent scientific testing in Mr. Skinner’s case. We implore you to take the lead in the search for truth in this case.  Test the DNA evidence before moving forward with Mr. Skinner’s execution.”

(Letter to Texas Officials, October 27, 2011).  See Innocence and New Voices.