"Texas AG: New tests don't clear death row inmate," is the AP report by Nomaan Merchant, via the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
New DNA testing in the case of a Texas Panhandle man on death row for a New Year’s Eve triple-slaying doesn’t support an alternate theory of the crime, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.
Hank Skinner once came within an hour of execution for the 1993 killings of girlfriend Twila Busby and her two grown sons in Pampa, about 50 miles northeast of Amarillo. Now 50, Skinner’s execution has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Both his attorney and prosecutors agreed in June to new DNA testing of evidence.
The attorney general’s office filed a court advisory Wednesday that says new testing “does not support Skinner’s claim that an alternative suspect is the real killer.”
Skinner has argued he wasn’t the killer because he was passed out on a couch from a mix of vodka and codeine. The AG’s advisory says traces of Skinner’s DNA were located in blood in the bedroom where one of Busby’s sons, Randy Busby, was found stabbed to death. Prosecutors said his DNA also was matched to blood stains throughout the house.
Skinner attorney Rob Owen objected to Wednesday’s advisory, calling its findings premature. In a statement, Owen said it was “troubling” that the AG’s office submitted a report while testing was still ongoing. The AG’s office says both sides are discussing whether to conduct more tests.
The Houston Chronicle reports, "DNA testing proceeds, but guilt questions in Skinner case linger." It's by Allan Turner.
DNA testing of evidence collected at the scene of a 1993 Texas Panhandle triple murder "further confirms" that convicted killer Henry Skinner was guilty of the crime, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has told the Pampa court that tried the case.
Consistently protesting his innocence, Skinner has fought for more than a decade to obtain testing of potential evidence not analyzed for DNA. In June, Abbott's office and Skinner's attorney agreed that 40 items would be tested at the Texas Department of Public Safety's Lubbock laboratory.
Skinner, whose case has become an international cause celibre among death penalty opponents, claimed that he had consumed excessive alcohol and codeine and was unconscious at the time of the New Year's Eve killings.
Skinner had called for DNA testing of a bloody knife found on the front porch of the residence he shared with the victims. Abbott advised the Pampa court that the knife bore blood traces from Skinner, Caler and a third individual who was not identified.
The initial round of testing indicates at least one person other than Skinner or the victims may have been present in the house the night the murders occurred.
"New DNA Testing Confirms Skinner's Guilt, AGs Office Says," is Jordan Smith's Austin Chronicle post.
DNA testing in the case of death row inmate Hank Skinner"confirm" that he is responsible for the deaths of his longtime girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two grown sons, Elwin Caler and Randy Busby, who were murdered in the home they shared in Pampa on New Year's Eve 1993, lawyers for the state assert in papers filed in Gray County court on Tuesday.
According to the "advisory" filed in court regarding the results of post-conviction DNA testing done this fall, Skinner's DNA was found on 10 items of evidence among 40 submitted for testing by the Department of Public Safety's Lubbock Crime Lab, including on multiple items of evidence taken from the bedroom shared by Twila Busby's sons, where they were both murdered. Skinner's DNA was found in blood on a dresser, on the door frame, on a comforter, on a tennis shoe, and on a cassette tape holder all collected from the room. Skinner's DNA was also found on door knobs – both inside and outside the house – and on the back door of the house. The test results show that Skinner was all over the house the night that the family was murdered and, combined with testing done prior to Skinner's 1995 trial, proves he is responsible for the murders, Assistant Attorney General Edward Marshall wrote for the court.
In a statement released Wednesday, Owen criticized the state for jumping to conclusions about the DNA results obtained thus far. Owen noted that testing is still ongoing – including on two items where a mixture of DNA, including that of an unknown person has been found. While no DNA was found on one of the knives collected from the house, a mixture of DNA, including Skinner and Caler, was found on a knife collected from the front porch of the house, along with a DNA profile from an unknown person. Similarly, a mixture of DNA, including an unknown profile, was found on a blood sample of carpet collected from the sons' bedroom. "We will remain unable to draw any strong conclusions about whether the DNA testing has resolved the stubborn questions about Hank Skinner's guilt or innocence until additional DNA testing has been completed, and the data underlying that DNA testing has been made available to our experts for a detailed review," Owen said. Additional testing is needed to amplify the unknown DNA profile so that it can be loaded into the national law enforcement database to search for a match, Owen said. The profile has been run through Texas' DNA database, but didn't generate a hit. Details about the discovery of the unknown profile were not included in the AG's office court advisory.
Earlier coverage of Hank Skinner's case begins at the link.