Skinner Asks Perry for Reprieve

Lawyers for death row inmate Hank Skinner sent Gov. Rick Perry a letter yesterday asking him for a 30-day reprieve from Skinner's scheduled March 24 execution. The lawyers also asked Perry to order DNA testing on evidence that Skinner says could prove his innocence.

Skinner was sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two mentally disabled adult sons. But Skinner has vehemently asserted his innocence. He claims that DNA evidence from the crime scene, including material from two knives, a rape kit, Busby's fingernail clippings and a man's windbreaker, could show that another person committed the slaughter. But Texas courts have denied the testing, asserting that Skinner had the chance at his original trial in 1995 to have that DNA checked.

As Skinner's execution date approaches, his lawyers are exhausting every opportunity to get the DNA tested. In addition to the letter to Perry, they have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and have filed renewed pleadings with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said his office received the letter but no decision has been made about granting the reprieve or ordering the tests.

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