The only forensic evidence to support the state of Texas’s decision to execute Claude Jones in 2000 was a single strand of hair found at the scene. Jones, who had always professed his innocence, asked for a stay of execution so that the strand could be DNA tested, a technology that was not available during his conviction in 1990. But in 2000, then-governor George W. Bush, embroiled in the Florida recount controversy, denied the request after being given a four-page memo by his lawyers on the subject that never mentioned DNA testing, a practice Bush favored despite the fact that 151 people were executed during his governorship, or that it could exonerate Jones. Two other Texas courts denied the same request. After three years of trying to obtain the strand from the state, a DNA test now shows that the hair belonged to the victim of the shooting, not Jones. Anti–death penalty advocates are hoping Jones could be the first-ever executed person exonerated by DNA evidence. Since we can’t blame this travesty on the Decider, how about the state of Texas’s review process for capital punishment? Or better yet, how about death penalty itself?
DNA Tests Undermine Evidence in Texas Execution [Texas Observer]