The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a request to stay the execution of death row inmate Henry 'Hank' Skinner. The decision comes after two letters were filed on Skinner's behalf.
Skinner's defense attorneys sent a letter to Governor Rick Perry, requesting he hold off Skinner's execution long enough to conduct DNA testing. The Innocence Project sent a similar letter to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Skinner has been on death row since he was sentenced in 1995. He was charged with the 1993 New Year's Eve murder of his wife, Twila Busby, and her two sons. Skinner maintains he did not commit these crimes. His defense team says he was heavily intoxicated on both alcohol and codeine and, as a result, was not physically capable of committing the crimes.
Skinner's defense team hopes to have the chance to test DNA on evidence found at the crime scene, including fingernail clippings, swabs from a rape kit, two knives, a windbreaker, a bloody dish towel, and pieces of hair. The items are all in storage and have never been tested for DNA.
Skinner had been set to be executed this Wednesday. He had previously been scheduled for executed in March 2010, but that order was stayed at the last minute by the US Supreme Court. The high court's decision drew a lot of national and international attention. An online petition requesting has been signed by over 130,000 people.
Governor Perry's Office is not commenting on the decision, saying this is a matter of the Court and that they will not intervene.