"A Busy Year for the Texas Executioner, but Hank Skinner Eludes Death Again," is David Protess' latest essay at Huffington Post. He's President of the Chicago Innocence Project. Here's the beginning:
In the spirit of the holidays, Texas is taking a break from lethally injecting the residents of the Allan B. Polunksy Unit, better known as death row.
Executioners need time off, too, especially after a busy year that reduced the surplus population by 14 -- six executions ahead of its nearest rival, Oklahoma, and one-third of the total state-sponsored killings in 2012.
The Texas killing fields ended in controversy a week before Thanksgiving when Preston Hughes was executed despite compelling evidence of his innocence. Texas will officially welcome in the New Year when Kimberly McCarthy becomes the first woman put to death in two years, barring an unforeseen stay.
Of the 17 executions planned for 2013, eight will be in Texas. And, if Texas has its way, one of the newly departed will be Henry Watkins Skinner, a/k/a "Hank."
Executing Hank Skinner has presented a surprisingly stubborn challenge for Texas lawmen. Convicted of brutally slaying his live-in girlfriend and her two adult sons on New Year's Eve in 1993, physical evidence proved that Skinner was in the home at the time of the crime. Then he showed up, wearing bloodstained clothes, at a neighbor's residence and allegedly threatened her if she called the cops. A Panhandle jury did not take long to find him guilty and recommend the ultimate punishment.
Yet, on death row for 18 Christmases, Skinner has outlived more than 400 condemned men and women. How? Turns out the evidence was not what it seemed.
Earlier coverage of Hank Skinner's case begins at the link.