Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Test the Damn DNA

The Supreme Court has recently ruled that Hank Skinner has a constitutional right to pursue DNA testing under civil rights legislation. Given that Texas desperately wants to execute him, one can understand Skinner's interest in the testing.

Texas, via DA Lynn Switzer, claims that Skinner is indisputably guilty and had a chance to test the DNA before his trial. Switzer claims she opposes the testing because it will only delay justice.

When I investigated this case one year ago this month, I made a detailed graphic summarizing the DNA that has been tested and remains to be tested. I re-post that graphic here, so that readers will have a better understanding of what all the fuss is about.

It's a large graphic. Click on it to enlarge. Once it appears as a separate image, click on it again to enlarge it even further.

The DNA items shown as "Tested" were tested after Skinner's trial, in the expectation that they would confirm his guilt and shut people up. The results instead exonerated Skinner and increased the furor over his impendng execution.

The DNA items shown as "Not Released" were sent for testing with the items which were tested. The "Not Released" items were either tested without releasing the results, or were not tested though sent for testing.

The remaining DNA items have never been sent for testing, as far as I can tell. They were tested neither before or after his trial. They should be tested. Before we execute anyone, we should test all the relevant DNA.