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Judge H. Lee Sarokin Headshot

Supreme Court Grants Stay of Execution of Henry Skinner

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It is difficult to imagine what it must mean for someone scheduled for execution to believe that they are innocent and that they are going to die nonetheless. One half hour before Henry Skinner was to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed his execution. I found myself sitting at the computer for hours waiting for a decision by the Court or the Governor. I cannot conceive what that same time period must have been like for Mr. Skinner.

I have been advocating, as have many others, that DNA testing should be conducted in his case either to exonerate him or confirm his guilt. Inconceivably, the prosecution and the Texas courts have rejected his petitions. Evidence exists that will either prove his innocence or his guilt, but he has consistently been denied access to that information.

The decision of the Supreme Court is but a temporary reprieve. It does not order the conduct of the DNA tests. That decision is yet to be made. It is difficult to imagine that means exist to prevent the execution of a possibly innocent man, and that our justice system does not or will not allow or require those means to be pursued.

I have commented on this case in prior posts, which are linked to below.