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Texas man's life hinges on DNA test results

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The criminal consequences of any crime can be harsh. In Texas, however, the sentences that attach to certain crimes can be much worse as compared to other states. That is partly because the State of Texas still carries the death penalty on its books. One Texas man on death row recently had his execution stayed to allow for further DNA testing. Prosecutors have charged with the murder of his girlfriend and her two sons in case of alleged family violence. A subsequent report issued by the attorney general's office on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, however, indicates that prosecutors do not believe that the DNA testing demonstrates that the man is innocent.

The problem with this report is that officials have not released the test results entirely yet. The defense attorney on the case objected to the report, arguing that it is premature for this reason. Also, the manhas maintained his innocence consistently.

On the night of the crime, in 1993, the man claims that he was passed out on the couch at the time when the three individuals were murdered. The man was convicted for the murders later. He came within an hour of execution at one point when the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals put the event on hold until further DNA testing could be completed.

Now, prosecutors allege that his DNA can be found in key parts of the crime scene, including on the handle of the murder weapon. According to the defense, however, the DNA testing is not yet complete, and the defense experts have yet to review the findings. Furthermore, there may be additional genetic material on the weapon that does not match the defendant's DNA, which means that there could have been an unknown person at the scene.

The man's life hinges on the DNA report. If there is evidence that another person handled the murder weapon, the defense will argue it is impossible to prove that the man was the actual murderer. In a Texas court of law, the prosecution must prove an accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is not an easy standard to meet, but a qualified criminal defense attorney can assist those charged with family violence crimes.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Texas AG: New tests don't clear death row inmate,"Nomaan Merchant, Nov. 14, 2012

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