Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Inmate In DNA Case

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of an inmate convicted of the murder of his girlfriend and 2 adult sons and sentenced to death who is seeking to have a DNA test performed on crime-scene evidence.  We originally reported on this case on May 24, 2010.  We reported that the Supreme Court had agreed to hear this case.  Within three hours after the bodies of Skinner's girlfriend and 2 adult sons were discovered by the police, Skinner was found hiding in the closet of a woman he knew.  The blood of at least one victim was found on Skinner and the police had tracked the trail of blood from the crime scene to the closet in which Skinner was found.  However, additional evidence found at the crime scene was not tested because his attorney feared that those test results could make the murder case against Skinner stronger.  Skinner was eventually convicted of the murders and now argues that DNA tests on this other crime-scene evidence would exonerate him.  He admits being in the home at the time of the murders but insists that he could not have committed the murders because he was passed out from a mix of vodka and codeine.  His attorneys now point to a deceased uncle of his girlfriend as the possible murderer.  After Skinner was convicted of the murders he tried to invoke a Texas law which allows inmates to request DNA testing after their conviction.  Texas refused to grant him the DNA testing so he filed a lawsuit in Federal Court invoking 42 U.S.C. 1983, the so called Section 1983 to request a DNA test.  The court refused to rule on the merits of Skinner's claim but opened the door to allow Skinner to make the claim in court.  His case now returns to the trial court to determine whether he will be allowed access to the DNA testing.  Analysts see this is a narrow procedural ruling which opens the door to inmates seeking DNA testing after they are convicted.

The case is Skinner v. Seitzer, 09-9000.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at www.thelegaldefenders.com or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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