Saturday, October 31, 2015

Prosecutor: We'll test DNA if we can still execute you, anyway

Grits found it remarkable that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals continued to deny death-row Larry Swearingen DNA testing even after the Legislature changed the law this year ostensibly to allow it. See Judge Keasler's ruling denying testing, Judge Yeary's partial concurrence and partial dissent, and Judge Alcala's dissent. (The rulings interpret the version of the statute before this spring's changes.)

The Houston Chronicle's Cindy Horswell had by far the best coverage of the ruling (Oct. 28). This observation, to me, summed up the absurdity of the situation: Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon "said his office has offered to do the additional DNA testing since 2013 - if Swearingen's attorneys' would agree the findings would not alter the outcome of the case." So, he's willing to have DNA testing performed so long as Swearingen can still be executed if he turns out to be innocent ... the mind reels!

In that light, the Court of Criminal Appeals denying testing makes little sense to this non-lawyer observer. Killing Swearingen without testing guarantees questions will hang over the case because of such an aggressive, disingenuous stance by the DA, which is reminiscent to this writer's mind of John Bradley's years-long battle to deny DNA testing to Michael Morton. Bradley made similar claims about the overwhelming evidence of Morton's guilt right up until DNA evidence cleared him. So if evidence of Swearingen's guilt really is "overwhelming," testing the evidence should be no big deal. But when you're talking about capital punishment, it's better to know than assume.

Swearingen is represented by Bryce Benjet of the national Innocence Project, where "attorneys are mulling over whether to file yet another motion to seek DNA testing under this revised statute," Horswell reported.


The Comedian said...

If you have nothing to hide, then why fear DNA testing?

Anonymous said...

The mentality of prosecutors, at every level, defies understanding.

Prison Doc

Anonymous said...

Another 3 candidates for immigration to Palau.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon "said his office has offered to do the additional DNA testing since 2013 - if Swearingen's attorneys' would agree the findings would not alter the outcome of the case.

In my humble opinion, Brett Ligon should be disbarred for uttering that statement. Any officer of the court who is working a capital case where a human life is at stake should WANT to know the truth, has anyone asked this worthless excuse for an attorney WHY he thinks it is a good idea? If the DNA test comes back and shows the man innocent, how can any human being want to execute him anyway?

This in itself is reason enough for him to be fired as an assistant DA and if he is still employed there, his boss need some serious scrutiny. I would certainly wonder if I were still a resident of Montgomery County,(I was for 9 years) who is next, it seems their DA can just scoop people up and put them to death with impunity and absolutely no fear of retribution. I am a quite put out that the judge allowed that comment to pass in court. Why did he or she not chastise and correct the guy for his attitude. I am assuming the guy is on trial for murder and the DA thinks it is OK to commit an offense as bad or worse than he thinks the defendant is guilty of, but he should not be charged with intentional murder himself.

I don't often get on my soapbox Y'all but this guy thinks it's okay for him to sponsor the murder of the guy even after he is proven innocent. If this makes good sense to anybody, please explain because it is totally out of order to say the DNA proved he didnt do it, but he was convicted in court so we are gonna kill him anyway. I hope Ligon is single and has no family, can you imagine the public ridicule they would be facing knowing your husband or father advocates the murder of innocent people in order to advance his career objectives.

Guys like Ligon, end up hanging themselves Judas style in dark motel rooms. I cannot believe this person, I hope he changes his ways, how many shifty underhanded things has he already done to further his career?

Anonymous said...

I think the Defense should agree to this deal...provided that DA Ligon stake his life on the results. Swearingen get death regardless of the results, but Ligon gets life or death (along side Swearingen) depending on the results of the DNA testing.

In the event that that DNA results favor the defendant (and Swearingen is executed anyway), Ligon should get the death penalty for executing an innocent man.

The taxpayer saves on airfare to Palau.

Lee said...

Another Exile to Palau.