Innocence Blog

Why DNA Evidence Deserves Testing in a Mississippi Death Row Case

Posted: May 2, 2013 4:15 pm

In a new column in The Atlantic, contributing editor Andrew Cohen makes the case for testing DNA evidence for Willie Manning, a Mississippi man scheduled for execution next week despite a lack of physical evidence connecting him to two murders. Manning has spent 20 years on death row maintaining his innocence in the deaths of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller. Cohen cites several reasons that point to the need for testing.
 
Lawyers for the Mississippi Innocence Project filed a brief in favor of the testing to the Mississippi Supreme Court, who denied the request last week in a 5-4 ruling. Cohen writes:


By testing the DNA evidence still available, Mississippi could achieve two goals at the same time -- resolving Manning's claims and, if those claims are valid, finding a person responsible for the crime. The state's justices may be in no mood to listen to the Innocence Project, but if they are they will hear something insightful about the way these cases unfold. "Simply put," the Innocence Project argued this week, "just because it's hard to imagine a scenario where DNA testing could exonerate Willie Manning doesn't mean there isn't one."

In 48% of the 306 DNA exoneration cases, the real perpetrator was identified through a DNA match.
 
Urge Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to stay the execution and allow Manning to do the DNA testing.
 
Read the full article.
 
Read about cases of people exonerated through DNA testing after serving time on death row.




Tags: Mississippi, Death Penalty, Innocence Network