Let’s Save Hank Skinner Together!
Hank Skinner is an American citizen who was arrested on 1 January 1994 in Texas, accused of a triple homicide. He was sentenced to death in March 1995 in the absence of any incriminating evidence and despite the Sheriff’s obvious intention not to investigate what would have exonerated him. 95% of the sealed evidence from the crime scene was only tested in 2012 following a long legal battle to obtain DNA testing. Between 2010 and 2011, Hank Skinner survived three execution dates. ECPM (Ensemble contre la peine de mort) has been supporting him since 2010.
Reminder of the facts:
31 December 1993 : Hank Skinner’s partner and two adult sons are killed shortly before midnight at the home they shared with Hank.
1 January 1994 : Hank Skinner is arrested without any evidence or an investigation implicating him.
24 March 1995 : Death sentence. Hank Skinner has always protested his innocence.
From 1996 to 2009 : Numerous appeals in the State Court and the Federal Court are rejected, including two requests for DNA testing.
November 2009 : The trial judge signs an execution warrant for 24 February 2010.
February 2010 : The execution warrant is cancelled on a technicality and the execution date is put back to 24 March 2010.
24 March 2010 : 25 minutes before the time arranged for the lethal injection, the US Supreme Court grants him an unlimited reprieve without indicating initially if it would review his case.
24 May 2010 : The US Supreme Court agrees to review his case.
13 October 2010 : The US Supreme Court sits to hear the defence and the prosecution in order to decide which jurisdiction is authorised to call for DNA testing on national territory.
7 March 2011 : By 6 votes to 3, the Supreme Court rules in favour of Hank Skinner and sends the case back to the lower court.
17 June 2011 : The Governor of Texas signs a new bill facilitating access to DNA testing in the appeal phase. This law becomes applicable on 1 September 2011.
27 July 2011 : The trial judge signs a new execution warrant for 9 November 2011.
2 September 2011 : The defence lawyers file a third request for DNA testing.
2 November 2011 : The trial judge rejects the third request for DNA testing, contradicting the Code of Criminal Procedure and the new law.
7 November 2011 : The Texas Courts of Appeal order a reprieve.
2 May 2012 : The Texas Courts of Appeal sit to hear the two parties present their arguments.
1 June 2012 : The Texas Department of Justice withdraws its opposition to DNA testing before the Appeal Courts can rule.
22 June 2012 : A bilateral agreement between the prosecution and the defence is signed in order to carry out DNA testing. A percentage of the cost of these tests is to be paid by the prisoner.
2012 – 2013 : The results in full are communicated to both parties.
February 2014 : The trial court sits to hear the interpretation of the results. Both parties then present their written conclusions to the judge in order for him to send his recommendation to the Appeal Courts.
14 July 2014 : The trial judge supports the conclusions of the prosecution.
12 November 2014 : The defence lawyers appeal this decision.
2015 : Following recommendations from the FBI, some of the DNA tests must be done again based on a new calculation formula because of a number of false positive results observed with the old method.
2016 – 2017 : Over the course of the year there is much toing and froing between the defence, the prosecution, the police laboratory and the Appeal Courts concerning the time needed for the development of new software compatible with the new method and a training period for the technicians in the police laboratory.
September 2017 : The defence lawyers hire two experts to analyse the new results.
8 and 9 January 2018 : A new hearing is planned before the trial judge to present the new interpretation of these results and thus make it possible for the Appeal Courts to decide whether these results (if they had been available at the time of the trial) would have created sufficient doubt for the jury to declare him not guilty.
If the Appeal Courts support Hank, he will be able to present a new appeal to protest his innocence.
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