A Texas appeals court this afternoon stayed Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Hank Skinner “pending resolution” of his appeal for further DNA testing.
In a two-page order, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas noted that the state law regarding DNA has recently changed. “Because the DNA statute has changed, and because some of those changes were because of this case, we find that it would be prudent for this Court to take time to fully review the changes in the statute as they pertain to this case,” according to the order.
Rob Owen, Skinner’s lawyer, issued a statement, saying, “The Court of Criminal Appeals with its decision today, has ensured that Mr. Skinner’s request for DNA testing will receive the thorough and serious consideration it deserves. We are grateful for the Court’s action and look forward to the opportunity to make Mr. Skinner’s case for DNA testing in that forum.”
Skinner hopes that he might one day be found innocent of the death of his girlfriend and her two sons.
Skinner’s girlfriend, Twila Busby, was bludgeoned to death with an axe handle in 1993 and her sons were stabbed. Skinner was found nearby with his clothes soaked in the victims’ blood.
Skinner claims that he could not have committed the crimes because he was incapacitated by alcohol and codeine. At his trial his lawyers chose not to ask for additional testing of knives found at the scene, the axe handle, vaginal swabs, fingernail clippings and additional hair samples. Skinner was convicted and sentenced to death.