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Innocence Project: Overhaul Death Penalty Laws

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Texas death chamber execution gurney. (credit: AP)

Texas death chamber execution gurney. (credit: AP)

HOUSTON (AP) – A leading anti-death penalty lawyer says the execution of a Texas man whose plea for DNA testing was ignored shows procedures and laws covering capital punishment need to be changed.

Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck said Friday in Houston that the execution of convicted murderer Claude Jones 10 years ago took place only because then-Governor George W. Bush wasn’t aware Jones’ lawyer had asked for DNA testing on a piece of hair used to convict him.

Bush’s office has declined to comment on the case.

The hair was the only piece of physical evidence tying Jones to the 1989 killing. Recent tests have shown it wasn’t Jones’ hair.

Scheck acknowledges that the hair doesn’t prove Jones was innocent. But he says the findings mean the evidence was insufficient under Texas law to convict Jones.

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