In an unprecedented move, Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon on Monday issued a 60-day stay of execution for condemned inmate Darnell Williams to allow for DNA testing, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Williams, 36, was scheduled to die Friday in Michigan City for the 1986 murder of a Gary couple, but his lawyer says the DNA tests could show blood on his shorts was not from the victims.
The case has drawn national attention as Williams and death penalty opponents, including the New York City-based Innocence Project, have asked the state to allow the testing.
O’Bannon’s decision is the first time an Indiana governor has granted a stay to allow for DNA testing.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, lawyers for a man who has spent half his life on death row said new DNA tests “exonerated” him of a 1981 rape and murder, but Delaware County prosecutors said they would re-examine the evidence.
If the new DNA examination ultimately clears Nicholas James Yarris, it would be the first time a Pennsylvania death sentence was overturned by the evolving science, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Yarris, now 42, was sentenced to die for the Dec. 15, 1981 kidnapping, rape and murder of Linda Mae Craig, 32.