An evidentiary hearing in the Hank Skinner case has been scheduled for Feb. 3 and 4.  The hearing will focus on whether it is “reasonably probable” that Skinner would have been acquitted if all DNA evidence in the case had been presented at his 1995 trial, according to court records.  The defense and prosecution disagree on what the DNA results mean.

Skinner was convicted of a 1993 triple homicide and sentenced to death.  Skinner allegedly bludgeoned his girlfriend, Twila Jean Busby, 40, and her two sons, Elwin Caler, 22, and Randy Busby, 20, on New Year’s Eve.  In 2011, for the third time in more than 15 years, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted Skinner’s execution because of Texas’ new post-conviction DNA testing law.

Prosecutors agreed in June 2012 to allow the testing.  However, some evidence items in the case were “lost” by the government.  The results in question were from 4 hairs in Busby’s hands.

“In light of this latest round of DNA tests, supported by other exculpatory evidence, the doubts about Mr. Skinner’s guilt are far too substantial to allow his execution to proceed,” Douglas Robinson, an attorney for Skinner, wrote in an email to the media.

One of the hairs belonged to Skinner, which his lawyers said is unremarkable because he lived in the house.  More importantly the other three hairs came from the “maternally related line of persons” with the victims.  A previous examination shows that the hairs are not from the victims themselves.

The testing on the hairs, Skinner’s lawyers argue, aligns with their contention the killer was actually Busby’s uncle who had a history of violence and had been making unwanted sexual advances at Busby in the days leading up to the murders.  Other exculpatory evidence includes, a windbreaker resembling one that Busby’s now-deceased uncle regularly wore was found at the crime scene.  He was also seen cleaning his truck in the days following the murders.


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