Human Rights

Texas Lawmakers Urge Gov. Perry to Stop Execution of Hank Skinner

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, and Rep. Elliott Naishtat have sent Gov. Rick Perry letters urging him to grant a 30-day reprieve for Skinner to test DNA evidence in his case.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wrote Gov. Rick Perry letters [Tuesday] urging him to grant a 30-day reprieve for death-row inmate Hank Skinner, who is scheduled for execution [Wednesday].

Skinner was sentenced to death in 1995 for the murders of his live-in girlfriend and her two mentally disabled adult sons. For more than a decade, he has asked the courts to allow DNA testing on evidence that was not analyzed at his original trial, including a rape kit, knives, a man's windbreaker and fingernail clippings from Twila Busby, his girlfriend. Skinner says he was too intoxicated from vodka and codeine to commit the murders, and he says the DNA will show that someone else was the killer. The courts have denied the tests, arguing that Skinner had his chance at trial to test those items and that what DNA testing has been done was incriminating.

As the hours wind down to his execution, Skinner and his attorneys are awaiting decisions from Perry and from the U.S. Supreme Court. They've asked both to postpone the execution and order testing on the DNA. A Perry spokeswoman said today he still has not made a decision about granting the reprieve. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles [Monday] denied Skinner's application for a reprieve.

The letters today from Ellis and Naishtat are among about 8,000 letters Skinner's attorneys said have been sent to Perry urging him to grant a reprieve. Skinner advocates have also taken over Perry's Facebook wall. Nearly every post on the page urges Perry to postpone the execution and allow the testing.