April 29, 2013 by socialaction2014
Mississippi is poised to execute a man who maintains his innocence without first performing DNA testing on evidence that could definitively prove his innocence or guilt. In a 5-4 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that there was no need to test biological evidence – including a rape kit, fingernail scrapings and hairs found on the victims – in Willie Manning’s case because of “overwhelming evidence of guilt.” Tragically, appeals courts were also wrong in the 306 wrongful convictions (18 involving people who served time on death row) later overturned by DNA evidence.
Willie has always maintained his innocence and has been requesting testing of this evidence for years, requests which have been consistently denied. During his trial, the only physical evidence presented were the hairs he is now seeking to get tested, which an analyst said came from an African American. (Willis is African American and the victims were white.) In the years since, both the FBI and the National Academy of Science have cast doubt on the reliability of hair analysis in the absence of DNA testing. In fact, the FBI recently announced that it would be undertaking a massive review of all the cases in which its analysts testified regarding hair microscopy. In this case it was an FBI agent who claimed the hairs were from an African American.
DNA testing could definitively prove Willie’s guilt or innocence. It could also implicate another suspect as the true perpetrator. There is no good reason to execute anyone without performing the testing that could definitively prove guilt or innocence. Please join us in asking Governor Bryant to stay Willie’s execution and order DNA testing in his case.
Yours in Seeking Justice,
Barry Scheck & Peter Neufeld