More Texas Justice

Via Megan, more troubling news out of Texas:


Claude Jones always claimed that he wasn't the man who walked into an East Texas liquor store in 1989 and shot the owner. He professed his innocence right up until the moment he was strapped to a gurney in the Texas execution chamber and put to death on Dec. 7, 2000. His murder conviction was based on a single piece of forensic evidence recovered from the crime scene--a strand of hair--that prosecutors claimed belonged to Jones...

A decade later, the results of DNA testing not only undermine the evidence that convicted Jones, but raise the possibility that Texas executed an innocent man. The DNA tests--conducted by Mitotyping Technologies, a private lab in State College, Pa., and first reported by the Observer on Thursday--show the hair belonged to the victim of the shooting, Allen Hilzendager, the 44-year-old owner of the liquor store.

It's certainly possible, as the article goes on to say, that Jones still was the killer. Jones also had a lengthy and, rather colorful, criminal record--including tossing lighter fluid on a fellow inmate and setting him on fire. But all of that's beside the point. The question is whether we should be executing people on account of dubious forensic evidence.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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