Virginia Gov. Mark Warner plans to order DNA tests that could show that a coal miner executed for a rape-murder in 1992 did not commit the crime, says USA Today. If the tests clear Roger Coleman, death penalty opponents say it would be the first time in the U.S. that an executed convict is scientifically shown to be innocent. “The final argument (of death penalty advocates) is that no innocent person has been executed,” said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.
Coleman, a coal miner from in southwest Virginia, was convicted of the 1981 rape-murder of his sister-in-law. He claimed innocence, testifying that he was elsewhere at the time the crime occurred. Political scientist John McAdams of Marquette University, a death penalty supporter, says opponents will incur a “major hit to their credibility” if DNA tests confirm Coleman’s guilt.