After FBI Revelations, Mississippi Court Reverses Itself And Grants DNA Testing

After earlier voting to deny death row inmate Willie Manning access to DNA testing, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed itself on July 23 and cleared the way for the testing of evidence in Manning’s case. Manning has maintained his innocence since his 1994 conviction of the murders of two college students. His renewed request for testing was supported by letters from the Department of Justice and the FBI, which are conducting a review of forensic testimony by FBI experts. They have found 27 death penalty cases, including Manning’s, that may have included erroneous testimony. Manning came within hours of execution on May 7, but the Mississippi Supreme Court finally granted a stay after hearing from the Justice Department about errors at Manning’s trial. The order gives Manning 60 days to ask a county judge to grant DNA and fingerprint testing. Tucker Carrington, Director of the Mississippi Innocence Project, said of the decision, “I feel like Mississippi stepped back from the precipice, regardless of the results … by allowing the testing and avoiding becoming one of a few if not the first state ever to ignore … the probative value of post conviction DNA evidence.”

(E. Lane, “DNA test granted for Miss. death row inmate,” Clarion Ledger, July 25, 2013.) See Innocence.