That's the title of Lincoln Caplan's post at the New York Times Taking Note blog on the case of Willie Manning.
Mississippi is scheduled to execute Willie Manning on Tuesday for his 1994 conviction for two murders. Mr. Manning is seeking DNA testing of hair, fingernail scrapings and other evidence connected to the crimes. His lawyers argue that no physical evidence links him to the crimes and that DNA testing could prove him innocent and identify another killer.
But last week, by 5-4, the Mississippi Supreme Court approved the state’s motion to proceed with the execution, having denied Mr. Manning’s motion for DNA testing last month by the same vote.
Last week, the Justice Department provided extraordinary grounds for the state to allow DNA testing in the Manning case. In a letter to the prosecution and defense, the department said that testimony of an F.B.I. analyst who was a key prosecution witness “exceeded the limits of the science and was, therefore, invalid.”
That analyst testified that he could match a hair found at the crime scene to an individual with “a relatively high degree of certainty” and that the hair fragments collected from a victim’s car “came from an individual of the black race.” The Justice Department concluded that it was “error for an examiner to testify that he can determine that the questioned hairs were from an individual of a particular racial group.”
The F.B.I. has now offered to do the DNA testing requested by Mr. Manning, who is black. One dissenting opinion from the Mississippi Supreme Court said, “In asking the jury to convict Manning, an African American, of the murder of two white students, the prosecution seems to have placed great emphasis on the fact that hair samples, originating from an African American” were found in the car. The prosecution, however, did not connect the hair to Mr. Manning. Clearly, the Justice Department’s letter makes the emphasis placed on the hair samples deeply problematic.
The updated AP post is, "Miss. inmate awaits word on execution," by Jack Elliott Jr. It's via the San Francisco Chronicle.
Willie Jerome Manning awaited word Tuesday on whether the state will execute him later in the day.
The execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the state prison in Parchman.
The Supreme Court, in separate rulings, has declined to grant Manning time for the tests and to stop his execution.
A spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant said the governor has not decided whether to block the execution.
"Mississippi death row inmate seeks stay of execution based on FBI forensic errors," by Spencer S. Hsu for the Washington Post.
Hours from execution, a Mississippi inmate renewed appeals Monday to retest DNA evidence in his conviction for the 1992 killings of two college students after the FBI acknowledged forensic errors in the case.
Lawyers for Willie Jerome Manning, 44, asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to stay his death by lethal injection, set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, after the FBI conceded over the weekend that one of its agents improperly claimed at Manning’s 1994 trial that hairs at the crime scene came from an African American. Manning his black; the victims were white.
As the high court considered Manning’s request for a stay, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) weighed a separate defense request to stay the execution filed after federal authorities conceded that the FBI agent exaggerated his ability to trace hairs to an African American.
Earlier coverage of Willie Manning's case begins at the link.