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Skinner requests DNA tests

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - A convicted murderer in Texas may avoid his upcoming execution date once again because of a new DNA testing law.

Death row inmate, Hank Skinner has requested DNA testing on evidence never before tested in his triple murder case.

He has maintained his innocence from the beginning, battling with the State for over a decade to DNA test several key pieces of evidence. Now, Hank Skinner could get his wish.

New Year's Eve 1993, Twila Jean Busby, choked and bludgeoned to death, her two adult sons Elwin and Randy stabbed to death, in their Pampa home.

Hank Skinner denied the crime, but found himself on death row. He has since asked for DNA testing on evidence not tested during his trial because his attorney thought it could incriminate him further.

But now a new law has prompted Skinner's attorneys to ask for testing on evidence that includes a windbreaker splattered with blood, two knives, and swabs from a rape kit.

The law allows for testing on evidence never before tested and doesn't require the defendant to explain why testing was not done during the trial.

Randall County District attorney James Farren says this is just another way to delay his execution. He explains, "Appellate attorneys involved in death penalty cases will buy time any way they can. Time is on their side. Time is their only hope."

But an area criminal defense attorney says a search for the truth will help him buy the time he needs if he is in fact not guilty.

Walt Weaver explains, "If I'm assigned a duty to be his advocate, zealous representative, and there was a piece of evidence that the original attorneys never looked at, which could exonerate Mr. Skinner and prevent his death, I would look at that piece of evidence."

Skinner's attorneys have also asked the court to withdraw the November execution date to allow time for the DNA testing, something both Farren and Weaver say is inevitable.

Farren says, "If they order the testing done, the state is going to appeal. If they order the testing not to be done and they're not going to change the execution date, then Mr. Skinner is going to appeal. So whether they change the date or not, the next appeal will force a change in the date."

Weaver says, "It takes several months usually for a DNA test to be done. I would think they would have to stay his execution in order for the testing to be done correctly."

Hank Skinner's attorney Rob Owen says, "Texas is wrong to seek Hank Skinner's execution without allowing for DNA testing."

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