Should death row inmates be guaranteed a DNA test?

Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 09:14 am
I was just reading about Mississippi inmate Willie Manning (www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/us/dna-tests-rejected-for-inmate-facing-tuesday-execution.html?_r=0)

He was convicted in 1992 for killing two students and he is scheduled for execution next week. He wants the evidence tested for DNA against him, believing he'll be exonerated by the tests.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the evidence linking him to the crime was strong enough that DNA tests aren't necessary.

My opinion is that the tests should be done.

My question is -- if a state executes someone who asked for a DNA test that they wouldn't allow, and the person is later found to be innocent, what is the state guilty of? Wrongful execution? Murder? What?

And who would/could be charged with that crime? The state? Do they just pay the surviving family some money? Is that enough punishment for murder?

The state's money is really the citizen's money. As a citizen, wouldn't you rather just pay for the DNA test?
Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 09:52 am
Yes, i agree that such tests should not only be allowed, but i think they should be mandatory in capital cases. If anyone were "guilty" in this case, it would be the members of the state supreme court. Maybe they could put them in prison with a group of large, angry lifers.
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Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 09:57 am
A perfect argument against the death penalty as it is so often unequally applied, the losers being those who can't afford OJ's dream team.
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Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 10:01 am
DNA tests ought to be done in every case where such evidence exists. Otherwise, how can we know beyond a doubt if someone is guilty?
Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 10:57 am
Yep - all murders and rapes, at the very least, should have DNA tests (possibly also some burglaries). Spend the $$ and be sure.
Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 11:11 am
jespah wrote:
Yep - all murders and rapes, at the very least, should have DNA tests (possibly also some burglaries). Spend the $$ and be sure.
A lot less costly than trials, appeals, the cost of incarceration, etc.
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Reply Sun 5 May, 2013 05:33 pm
It seems that we're all in agreement. I can't imagine why the SC of Miss ruled otherwise.

I agree with Set -- if this guy is executed and later found to have been innocent the SC should go to jail.
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Reply Sun 12 May, 2013 09:45 am
April 30, 2013
An Oklahoma man who was arrested and jailed for allegedly raping a 4-year-old girl intends to sue authorities for holding for three months while he pleaded with them to perform a DNA test, which eventually cleared him.

Tommy Braden, 26, of Sapulpa, Okla., was arrested in April 2012 after he called 911 in the morning to report that he had woken up to find his girlfriend's daughter, age 4, bleeding on her bed. He also reported a broken window in their mobile home and blood on the front porch, Smolen told ABC News. Braden shared the home with his girlfriend, their biological child, and the 4-year-old.

According to Braden's attorney Don Smolen, Creek County Sheriff's officers arrested and charged Braden with the girl's rape. Officials took a swab of his DNA at the time, but refused to test the sample for a DNA match with the semen and pubic hair found at the scene of the crime.

"He was openly cooperating, doing everything he can to prove that it wasn't him," Smolen said. "They found pubic hair and semen at the scene that's never tested... It takes three months for them to get it done and only after the court orders them to do it... It's just crazy to me."

Oklahoma Department of Corrections
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"Rarely do you have someone suspected of such horrific crime begging to give DNA. If you've got the opportunity where someone's voluntarily giving you sample, why not get it tested and confirm or deny whether it was him?" the lawyer asked.

The Creek County Sheriff's office did not respond to requests for comment from ABC.

"It was horrible, she was brutally raped," Smolen said. "And Tommy and Debra also have a child together, so it's not like you've got some random guy living in the house with the 4-year-old down the hall. This little girl has called him 'dad' since she was a year old. He and Debra are married now."

While he was in jail, Braden lost his job and the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Human Services took custody of the children, Smolen said.

Braden and his defense attorney finally won a ruling from a Creek County judge ordering the DNA test, which proved that Braden had not raped the girl.

Braden was released nearly three months after he was arrested, in July 2012. His record was expunged and both children are living with Braden and his girlfriend, Debra, again, though they are still under the state's supervision, Smolen said.

Police then arrested Braden's neighbor, Patrick Edward Misner, 28, and charged him with rape and molestation. He is awaiting trial in Oklahoma. His attorney did not return calls for comment.

Smolen notified Creek County this month that he was preparing a lawsuit against the county for Braden's imprisonment. The county has not yet responded, he said.
Reply Sun 12 May, 2013 10:36 am
It sounds like they should be charged with kidnapping and more.

Think of all the extra trauma they heaped on this child. Not only was she raped but she was taken away from her parents. Someone should sue on her behalf too.

It's really unbelievable that it took 3 months. DNA tests on the Cleveland kidnapper were done overnight.

I'm not one of those people who think anyone should sue at the drop of a hat but I hope this guys wins and wins big.
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