On March 24, 2010, the US Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution [PDF] for convicted murderer Henry "Hank" Skinner following his request for DNA testing to prove his innocence. The Court granted the stay just one hour prior to Skinner's scheduled execution. Skinner requested access to DNA testing based on a civil rights claim under § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Skinner was convicted in 1995 of killing his girlfriend, Twila Jean Busby, and her two adult sons. Skinner claimed he was innocent and was not capable of committing the murders because of the amount of drugs and alcohol in his system on the day of the murders. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals later issued another stay [PDF] pending review of changes to a state law that may permit DNA testing in relation to his case.
Learn more about the laws governing DNA testing and the death penalty from the JURIST news archive.