SCOTUS: Texas Death Row Inmate Can Pursue Civil Rights Claim

Mar 7, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate who is seeking to have DNA evidence in his murder case tested.  The court's decision means Hank Skinner won't be executed any time soon.

At issue in the case was not whether the DNA should be tested, but rather what procedures can be used in asking a court to order the testing.  Skinner's lawyers argued their client has a right to pursue a civil rights claim for the testing.

The decision reverses an appeals court ruling, and sending the case back to district court in Amarillo.

Skinner was convicted of the 1993 killings of his girlfriend, Twila Busby and her two sons. He claims he was too incapacitated by drugs and alcohol to have committed the crime - and that the DNA evidence will prove he is not guilty.