The Austin Chronicle posts, "Pruett Gets 60-Day Delay Pending DNA Testing," by Jordan Smith.
According to the state of Texas, on Dec. 17, 1999, Robert Pruett, 20, took a sharpened metal rod wrapped with tape and stabbed prison guard Daniel Nagle eight times, prompting a heart attack that killed the guard. Pruett then took a disciplinary complaint that Nagle had just written concerning Pruett's behavior that afternoon – he'd tried to take a sack lunch in the recreation yard, a violation of rules – and tore it up, discarding the pieces next to the guard's body.
At the time of Nagle's death, Pruett was already serving a 99-year sentence in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's McConnell Unit in Beeville for murder; at 16 he'd been certified to stand trial as an adult for his role in the beating and stabbing death by Pruett's father of a neighbor in the Harris County trailer park where they lived. Given his record, it's little wonder that a jury in 2002 sentenced Pruett to die for Nagle's murder.
But his execution, initially slated for May 21, last week was postponed for 60 days pending the outcome of agreed-to DNA testing that could demonstrate Pruett was not responsible for Nagle's death. Pruett has maintained his innocence, and his lawyer, David Dow, founder and co-director of the Texas Innocence Network at the University of Houston Law Center, is seeking to test pieces of the ripped-up disciplinary form to see if Pruett's DNA, or that of someone else, is on the paper. "DNA testing could corroborate [Pruett's] claim of innocence while also identifying the actual perpetrator of the murder," Dow wrote in a motion filed May 9. He notes that a palm print found on the paper was not a match to Pruett, and blood found on the pieces matched Nagle and "no other DNA profiles were developed from the report," he wrote.
"State judge delays execution set for next week," is the AP coverage, via the Baytown Sun.
A state district judge has put off next week's scheduled execution of a Texas inmate condemned for the slaying of a corrections officer at a South Texas prison in 1999.
Robert Pruett faced lethal injection May 21 for the fatal stabbing of Dan Nagle, a corrections officer at the McConnell Unit prison near Beeville. Attorneys for Pruett want additional DNA testing in his case. Prosecutors agreed to a 60-day delay.
State District Judge Ronald Yeager in Bee County on Tuesday formally withdrew next week's execution date. The judge also set a hearing for June 3 to address questions about the forensic testing and a new execution setting.
Related posts are in the DNA category index.