In the first test of a state law permitting convicts to seek exonerations through DNA tests, the Georgia Supreme Court and the state parole board have denied a request from a man scheduled to be executed tonight, reports the New York Times. Attorney Barry Scheck, who presented the case to the parole board believes it is the first time a death row inmate had been denied DNA testing after making every possible appeal at the state level. Scheck’s Innocence Project has assisted many of the 145 inmates nationwide who have been exonerated by DNA tests.
Last week, he argued for Eddie Crawford, offering to have the Innocence Project pay for the tests. Scheck said that in denying the tests, the Georgia court “ignores the lessons learned from our nation’s recent history of post-conviction DNA exonerations over the last 15 years.” A spokeswoman for the board said that in this case, DNA testing had already proven guilt, there was, overwhelming circumstantial evidence, and Crawford had confessed shortly after the crime. Scheck said there was a great deal of evidence that had never been tested. More than 35 states have laws allowing post-conviction testing, but standards of eligibility vary. Crawford was convicted of kidnapping his 2-year-old niece, assalting, and strangling her.