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DNA Testing is Next Following Stay of Manning Execution

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 May 2013 03:35pm | comments

A sudden reversal in the Mississippi Supreme Court means a death row inmate has longer to live. The decision to stay the execution of Willie Jerome Manning could mean the state will run the DNA tests he is asking for.

 Even as the clock ran down to his Tuesday execution time, Manning continued to insist that he did not murder two Mississippi State University students in 1992.

 Hours before he was set to die, the state Supreme Court ruled 8-to-1 to stay his execution after having voted 5-to-4 to let it go forward just days earlier.

 Tucker Carrington with the Mississippi Innocence project hopes the ruling will lead to DNA testing of some hair that Manning says could clear his name.

 "All the stay did was stay the execution. It didn't order DNA testing. In fact it didn't order anything with any specificity yet. My hope is that with further order from the court that will happen. That Mr. Manning and his lawyers, with the state, can access that biological evidence and have it tested," Carrington said.

 Carrington thinks letters sent by the FBI saying there were errors in agent's testimony about ballistics tests and hair analysis put new doubts into the case.

 Mississippi College School School of Law professor Matt Steffey says last minute stays are not uncommon, but thinks it is surprising that the court reversed course so soon after voting to let the execution go forward.

 Steffey says the DNA testing could delay the execution for months.

 "If, however, DNA testing is not permitted than it could be days or weeks before an execution is rescheduled. It is impossible to predict now but it is likely to be very soon or some months down the road," Steffey said.

 Previous death row inmates who have received last minute stays have eventually been executed.

 However, the most recent stay before Manning's....issued in 2011...is still in the courts and the inmate remains alive on death row. 

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