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Court Orders DNA Testing for Executed Texas Man

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In what may be the first posthumous DNA testing case, a Texas judge has ordered DNA testing on a strand of hair that was the only physical evidence linking Claude Jones to a murder for which he was put to death in 2000. The only other evidence offered against Mr. Jones was the testimony of an alleged co-conspirator, who later swore in an affidavit that he had no first hand knowledge of the crime. While Mr. Jones had a significant prior criminal history–including having killed a man–there was little evidence presented at his two-day trial to prove he had killed Allen Hilzendager in Point Blank, Texas in 1989. At trial,
the state’s crime-lab expert testified that a single hair found at the scene “matched” Jones. The Innocence Project in New York has been advocating for Mr. Jones since his execution, and convinced the court to test the hair although Mr. Jones had already been killed. The local prosecutor’s office had opposed the request, saying that since Jones had been executed there was no person with “standing” to bring the request. The judge, apparently, has disagreed. Testing could be completed within a few months.

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