June 13, source : http://www.chron.com
DNA testing of evidence in the Henry Skinner triple murder case hit yet another snag this week as prosecutors admitted that a blood-stained windbreaker – termed “perhaps the key piece of evidence” by the killer’s lawyer – cannot be found.
In a motion laying out terms of a joint agreement to begin testing filed late Tuesday, the state and Skinner attorney Rob Owen identify 40 items to be submitted for testing. Among them are clippings from a victim’s fingernails, vaginal swabs, and knives found at the scene of the 1993 New Year’s Eve Pampa murder.
Skinner, 50, was convicted of fatally bludgeoning his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and stabbing to death her two adult sons. He consistently has maintained his innocence, saying that consumption of codeine and alcohol had rendered him incapable of killing the victims.
Prosecutors in Tuesday’s filing concede that the windbreaker, collected from the scene by the Pampa Police Department, has not been found.
“According to the state, every other single piece of evidence in this case has been preserved,” Owen said in an email. “It is difficult to understand how the state has managed to maintain custody of items as small as fingernail clippings while apparently losing something as large as a man’s windbreaker jacket. To date, the state has offered no explanation for its failure to safeguard evidence in this case.”
A spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office declined immediate comment.
Owen said the jacket, which appears to be stained with perspiration and blood, may have been worn by the assailant. Owen said that, since the trial, a witness has identified the jacket as one worn by Busby’s uncle.
That man, now dead, reportedly was seen stalking Busby at a party shortly before her murder.
Skinner has had at least two execution dates set. Last November, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay to ascertain how revised laws regarding such testing may apply to his case.
Skinner has endeavored for more than a decade to obtain DNA testing of seemingly important evidence gathered at the crime scene.
Once a Gray County district court approves the proposed joint order, agencies or entities possessing items to be tested will have five days to send them to the Texas Department of Public Safety laboratory in Austin.