Texas death row inmate Hank Skinner is set to be executed on November 9.
. . . Skinner (who has already come within an hour of execution) is about to be executed despite the fact that there is testable DNA from the murder weapon, the rape kit, hairs one of the victims was found clutching, and a jacket left at the crime scene similar to one worn by another possible suspect, all of which has yet to be tested.
And it’s even worse than that. The state started testing on the hairs a decade ago. When preliminary mitochondrial testing came back negative as a match to either Skinner or the victim, the state just decided to stop further testing.
It’s one thing to consider all of the evidence, find it unconvincing, and then proceed with an execution despite strong disagreement from the suspect’s supporters. It’s a whole other level of moral culpability to deliberately remain ignorant about evidence that could definitively establish guilt or innocence.
The testing will at most cost a few thousand dollars. Skinner’s attorneys and a lab and Arizona have already agreed to cover that cost. It would take no longer than a few months. . . . I have no idea if Hank Skinner is guilty. Neither does the state of Texas. The difference is that I and anyone with a lick of conscience would prefer we find out before the man is put to death.
But of course the State has no conscience; it only has a Process, and that Process has been followed as long as the State’s henchmen can remain officially ignorant of exculpatory evidence. All of which is to say, a sad and dangerous gang of men — law-makers, prosecutors, judges, prison-guards and executioners — have shoved their conscience and their intelligence out of the way, and filled up the empty space with the excuses of legality and the ceremoniously-safeguarded ignorance of the state’s Criminal Justice System. In reality they are nothing more than a lynch mob in badges, suits, uniforms and black robes.
- GT 2011-09-21: Legal lynching (on the execution of Troy Davis)