Monday, September 10, 2007

Hair evidence preserved that will confirm or deny guilt of executed man

Did Texas execute Claude Jones for a crime he didn't commit?

A judge ordered DNA evidence preserved that could tell us one way or the other, thanks to legal action by the New York-based Innocence Project and The Texas Observer. See the Observer's post on the subject, and initial MSM coverage. Jones was the final Texan executed while George W. Bush was governor.

If Jones didn't commit the crime, not only did Texas kill a wrongfully convicted man, but the real killer is still out there.

At least San Jacinto County kept the evidence. If this case had occurred in Harris County, the DNA evidence would not have been preserved to test.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

If, using DNA evidence, the accused, convicted, and executed is proven not to be the guilty party, I wonder how the prosecutor lives with himself/herself? Further, I wonder if that's why they sometimes resist the DNA testing and resist the keeping of samples? I think that the truth could be too horrible to bear sometimes....

Anonymous said...

Remember, prosecutors do not care whether you are guilty or not ,what counts is the conviction,another feather in their hat towards election to a higher office. Or perhaps being elected by the Governor to become a Parole Board member like Linda Garcia , former Harris County DA. Surefire ways to keep those prisons full to the brim .

Ken Sparks said...

Anonymous 7:36: That is an idiotic comment that proves you have no grasp of the criminal justice system and no knowledge of its participants. Do not paint all prosecutors with the same broad brush. For every Mike Nifong there are 100 devoted prosecutors who would never do anything to convict an innocent person.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ken, certainly not everybody is Nifong (I might have said one in 25-50 rather than one in 100, since Harris and Williamson bump up the statewide percentages), but many prosecutors are motivated by Ws and Ls and engage in crafty gamesmanship to win marginal cases. Obviously the truth often lies in the gray area in between.

Here's my question, though: Why would a prosecutor oppose such DNA testing if not to prevent discovery of a wrongful conviction? I can't see how that position can be justified under a mandate to "seek justice," but it seems to be a common DA stance. best,

Anonymous said...

In general, prosecutors object to DNA testing because they fear the floodgates opening. Everyone starts asking for DNA testing and the public gets to see the prosecutor's real win/loss percentage. If the public got to see how many wrongly convicted people are in prison, they might lose confidence in the system, not to mention the prosecutor. I'm putting on my virtual raincoat because here come the virtual tomaters!

Ken Sparks said...

I do not oppose DNA testing before or after the fact unless a defendant is grasping at straws and the DNA result would not make any difference in the outcome. Understand that prisoners have been known to file frivolous DNA test requests.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Sure, prisoners file frivolous requests sometimes, but prosecutors have also opposed tests that turned out to exonerate people. Either way, if the DNA would make a difference, I'd rather know than not.

In cases like Jones' where the case falls apart if the DNA doesn't match, I'd think the prosecutors would WANT to know, just in case a killer was still on the loose.

I know that's not your position, Ken, but that's the part I've never understood, e.g., with Bill Hill in Dallas. The Innocence Project would exonerate one, then he'd oppose their motion to test DNA the very next time out - toward the end, the media ate him up on it, justifiably so. Whatever the merits of the legal arguments, which I'm not qualified to judge (and until 2005, if I recall, the law was slanted against testing), from a PR and political perspective that stance is long-run toxic. best,