In a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry, 27 exonerated ex-death row survivors—all members of the group Witness to Innocence— urged the governor to halt the execution of Hank Skinner and allow for DNA testing in his case. Skinner, who was sentenced to death for a 1995 triple murder, has a scheduled execution date of November 9.
“We, the undersigned, are alive today because some individual or
small group of individuals decided that our insistent and persistent
proclamations of innocence warranted one more look before we were sent
to our death by execution. We are among the 138 individuals who have
been legally exonerated and released from death rows in the United
States since 1973, and some of us were exonerated because of DNA
evidence,” the exonerees said in the letter. The group also reminded
Perry that he signed SB 122 into law, a measure which is intended to
ensure that DNA will be tested, if available, to prove someone’s
In a recent op-ed in the Huffington Post, Witness to Innocence member Kirk Bloodsworth, the first DNA exoneree in a capital conviction in the U.S., echoed
these sentiments. “The only reason my name was cleared, and the right
man brought to justice, is because prosecutors agreed to test the
evidence. I am living proof that when scientific evidence is available,
there is simply no excuse to refuse testing,” he said.
“Like Troy Davis in Georgia, there are some real questions regarding
the Hank Skinner case. The state of Texas does not know whether Skinner
committed the crime because they did not test his DNA,” said David A.
Love, Executive Director of Witness to Innocence. “If Texas doesn’t want
to risk killing a potentially innocent man, then Gov. Perry has no
choice but to stop the execution and allow for the DNA test.”
If you would like to schedule an interview with Kirk Bloodsworth or
Ray Krone, another DNA exoneree, contact Hooman Hedayati at 201-601-7231
or Kathy Spillman at 267-847-1482.
The mission of Witness to Innocence, the nation’s only organization
founded by and for exonerated death row survivors, is to empower
exonerated ex-death row prisoners and their family members to become
effective leaders in the movement to abolish the death penalty.
Witness to Innocence Exoneree Letter for Hank Skinner