A Texas death row inmate who came within minutes of being executed for a triple murder is at the center of a potentially far-reaching Supreme Court case on DNA testing, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Hank Skinner, who was eating his last meal when the justices stayed his execution in March, says a Texas prosecutor is violating his civil rights by not turning over DNA evidence that Skinner says will prove his innocence. The high court agreed yesterday to hear the case.
The justices could decide whether prisoners are empowered to file federal civil-rights lawsuits to force DNA testing after their convictions. The decision could give hundreds of prisoners a powerful legal avenue involving DNA evidence, legal experts say. Cory Session of Fort Worth of the Innocence Project of Texas. “That gives us a lot of hope for other cases down the pike.” Session is the brother of Tim Cole, who died in prison for a sexual assault he didn’t commit. The actual assailant confessed to the crime, and Cole was cleared by DNA testimony and exonerated. Gov. Rick Perry granted Cole a posthumous pardon this year. Skinner’s case received national attention after the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University began investigating and interviewed a star witness who recanted her testimony.