Texas AG: New tests don’t clear death row inmate – HANK SKINNER

November 14, 2012

New DNA testing in the case of a Texas Panhandle man on death row for a New Year’s Eve triple-slaying doesn’t support an alternate theory of the crime, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

Hank Skinner once came within an hour of execution for the 1993 killings of girlfriend Twila Busby and her two grown sons in Pampa, about 50 miles northeast of Amarillo. Now 50, Skinner’s execution has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Both his attorney and prosecutors agreed in June to new DNA testing of evidence.

The attorney general’s office filed a court advisory Wednesday that says new testing “does not support Skinner’s claim that an alternative suspect is the real killer.”

Skinner has argued he wasn’t the killer because he was passed out on a couch from a mix of vodka and codeine. The AG’s advisory says traces of Skinner’s DNA were located in blood in the bedroom where one of Busby’s sons, Randy Busby, was found stabbed to death. Prosecutors said his DNA also was matched to blood stains throughout the house.

Skinner attorney Rob Owen objected to Wednesday’s advisory, calling its findings premature. In a statement, Owen said it was “troubling” that the AG’s office submitted a report while testing was still ongoing. The AG’s office says both sides are discussing whether to conduct more tests.

We will remain unable to draw any strong conclusions about whether the DNA testing has resolved the stubborn questions about Hank Skinner’s guilt or innocence until additional DNA testing has been completed, and the data underlying that DNA testing has been made available to our experts for a detailed review,” Owen said in the statement.

While Skinner’s DNA was found on the handle of a bloody knife on Twila Busby’s front porch, Owen said the handle also had genetic material from two other people: Busby’s other slain son, Elwin Caler, and a third person other than Skinner or the victims. Owen said an unknown person’s DNA also was found on the carpet of the sons’ bedroom.

Skinner has acknowledged he argued with Busby on the night she was killed and that he was inside the house where the victim’s bodies were found. He was found about three hours after the bodies were discovered, hiding in a closet at the home of a woman he knew. Blood from at least two of the victims was found on him.

The attorney general’s office had argued against DNA testing, which Skinner’s trial attorneys did not request, but changed course. The state agreed to allow testing of a list of 40 items, though not a windbreaker jacket Skinner’s advocates consider crucial to establishing an alternate suspect’s guilt.



    Not that it was needed.

    Dudley Sharp

    Any additional DNA testing results will not exclude Skinner as the murderer, while the additional evidence, now, further supports Skinner’s guilt, just as previous DNA testing does.

    Skinner refused additional DNA testing, pre trial, because he feared he would be even more implicated with more testing – the only reason for such a refusal.

    There are two confessions from Skinner.

    Skinner offered to plead guilty to one of the three murders, in exchange for a reduced sentence. The prosecution refused.

    Skinner’s own blood splatter expert testified that the blood evidence did not support Skinner’s only alibi, that he was too intoxicated to have taken part in the murders.

    No one, knowledgeable of this case, believes additional DNA testing can possibly prove Skinner innocent. He’s a guilty triple murderer.


    Skinner declined additional DNA testing, pre trial, knowing it would clear him, because he preferred a death sentence, instead.

    It’s the only “logic” whereby additional DNA testing could save Skinner, now.

    Texas had been fighting the additional DNA testing to avoid the horrible precedent.

    Any criminal could game the system, in the same manner, by not insisting on any such testing, pre trial, knowing that if convicted, they could take a second bite at the apple later, after the conviction, even thought they know it will not help them, but is only a method of causing more headaches for the state and, in some cases, causing additional delays in an execution, just as with Skinner.

    My belief is the AG only agreed to the testing, now, to avoid that unfortunate court precedent


    I thought Twila’s mom said the coat was Twila’s. Didn’t she? Does it matter? Nope, not with all the evidence against Skinner.

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