A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is Hank Skinner Innocent? Who Cares? Execution Today

Texas is going to execute Hank Skinner today. Like any defendant condemmed to death, he's not a sympathetic fellow. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend and her two sons on New Year's Eve. Of course because a jury said he did it, he did it. Any scientific evidence to the contrary is just a nuisance.

But there is DNA that hasn't been tested.

Hank Skinner wants it tested, and he's asking the U.S. Supreme Court and Governor Rick Perry to intervene. Skinner asked the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles, but they said "no."

Skinner's defense lawyer spits in the wind: "I can't think of any good reason why you would refuse to do DNA testing in a case where there is other strong evidence pointing to innocence," Skinner's attorney Rob Owen told AFP.

"If I were a prosecutor I wouldn't want to put someone to death before I was absolutely sure -- and in this case, the DNA testing is what we need to be sure."

Eh. We've got ourselves an execution today. Talk of possible innocence is distracting.

Some students at Northwestern looked at the case and compared DNA - they determined that although at his trial there was DNA showing he was in the house where the murders occurred, Skinner was innocent.

Add that to no confession or eyewitnesses, no motive or record of a violent past on Skinner's part, and it sounds like that pesky DNA should be tested.

Seventeen death row inmates have been released after DNA testing proved their innocence.

But hey, everyone catch Idol last night?

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.


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  1. Anonymous6:19 PM

    I've noticed about Americans who call themselves conservatives that they see life as a game and within it there's a series of games, and the big crime is to lose a game. The trial was a game and he lost. Lose the game, lose your life. That's how these people think. Innocence or guilt? Irrelevant. Winning and losing is what it's all about.

  2. Anonymous3:51 AM

    I support the death penalty being kept on the books and used for really awful murders. That said, the way Texas just kills people in this manner is wrong. If you are going to try someone in a case where death can be the outcome (and not just for person the suspect may have killed!), then the defendant really does need to be given high priced rock star legal talent and be allowed to introduce exculpatory evidence.

  3. Anonymous10:09 PM

    Basically killing people is the most stupid idea ever. And that works both ways.